Online casinos a threat to Ukraine, says Zelenskyy

James Hydzik

16 April 2024 - 23:15

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Ukraine is being inundated with online casinos, and the government is investigating the national security threat they pose, especially when

Online casinos a threat to Ukraine, says Zelenskyy

On April 16, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called online casinos a national security threat. He held a meeting with various members of the government to commence an investigation into the issue and how it was affecting Ukrainian society, especially the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The meeting included representatives from the National Security Council, the SBU, the Ministry of Statistics, and the Presidential Office.

Zelenskyy said that the spread of online casinos and their security threat to Ukraine is under the consideration of the National Security Council [National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, or NSDCU – ed.]. He also noted that the author of the petition to the president to investigate the problem of online gambling in Ukraine, junior sergeant Pavlo Petrychenko of the 59th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade, died in battle on April 15.

The military in the cross-hairs

The Ukrainian military has been targeted by some online gambling platforms. Ukraine’s media have tales of front-line soldiers and their gambling addictions. Superior officers are now permitted to put soldiers with gambling addiction problems of registers and restrict access to such sites.

For the soldiers, online casinos are a hazard in more ways than one. Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies shut down illegal online casinos with regularity, and the offenders often send profits to Russia.

Now in plain sight

The city of Kyiv has had an on again / off again relationship with gambling. Under Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi, gambling laws were loosened, and enforcement even looser, and physical casinos could be found in the city. Both the laws and enforcement tightened after the Revolution of Dignity, driving the casinos underground (mostly). Advertising has not had the same extreme swings, but there have been changes designed for consumer protection.

Ukrayinska Pravda points to restrictions in advertising coverage that are flouted with regularity. The issues include ignoring timing and placement restrictions. gambling on public transport, on billboards, radio broadcasts during the day. Breaking these rules should result in fines, but the size of the fines to make a compelling argument would have to be huge, in Ukrainian terms. According to the National Bank of Ukraine, in early 2023, Ukrainians were spending the equivalent of $10 million on online gambling per day.

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