The President of Ukraine signed the law on the legalization of the gambling business three and a half months ago. Since then, the Commission for the Control of Gambling and Lotteries has been formed and has already begun its work. But representatives of the gambling business have many questions to the members of the commission and their decisions. Expert Igor Romanyuk, publisher of Azart magazine, exclusively for gamingpost.net spoke about why he wants to create an alternative regulatory body. And how he could not get into the expert council.
Igor, 15 years ago you published the Azart magazine and communicated closely with representatives of the Ukrainian gambling business. What does the community say about the newly created Gambling and Lottery Control Commission?
Nobody knows them. We saw their faces, written names and brief descriptions. That's all to know about these people in the gambling community. I communicate with more than 500 people who are engaged in gambling. But we do not know any of these people (members of the commission - ed.). Do they relate to the gambling business, to the gambling community? The answer is no. These are civil servants. Why did they go there? What is their purpose? I ask myself these questions and cannot find answers.
Perhaps those who are not connected with the gaming world were deliberately selected for the commission? To play it safe that no one is involved in corruption schemes?
These people were chosen in the absence of logic that could explain their presence in this commission. Let us not recruit lawyers to the Ministry of Justice, but anyone, people from the street. And they will tell lawyers: what is right, what is wrong, how the court should be conducted. It makes you laugh. And why lawyers who have never been to a casino, as they claim, have never held cards in their hands, will try to regulate the business related to cards with casinos? This is nonsense. This is the same as entrusting a doctor with hammering. In my opinion, the commission, the regulator should have created a new industry - the gambling business. And it turns out that the commission is people who will control something. They won't know how to control it. They will not understand that they are in control. They will be in control.
Have you tried to be a member of the commission or share your experience?
Three months ago I tried to give my advice from the height of my experience of communicating with different market operators. But they didn’t listen to me. When we tried to get to the round tables with Marusyak (member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Finance - ed.), they said about me: "Oh! Nice man! Listen to him!" And that was the end of it. And, by the way, I described all these things, how to create a regulator, why licensing conditions are bad. It was all on the pages of the Azart magazine.
Now the commission is creating an expert advisory council. Have you, as an expert in the gambling business, been offered cooperation?
I wrote, tried to talk to the head of the commission, Ivan Rudy. They just don't answer me. They don't need me for one simple reason - they have people who will tell them what to do. Anyone can apply SWOT analysis to a business, but will this business work? I am now creating a completely alternative public body that will unite all associations and federations in the gambling community. I initiate the creation of closed clubs. And I think that the experience of this club that will show what a regulator should be. I have a clear vision of this task, and on the basis of what I know, communicate and see, I would like to implement this at the non-state level, because the state does not have the money for this. Therefore, I do not want to help the commission, I will create my own direction and I hope that those people who are in the industry will support me.
If you were among the members of the Gambling Regulatory Commission, what would you do to develop the industry right now?
I would have simplified the licensing rules, up to 5 points. It is a huge mistake to attract an investor with a huge investment in nowhere. The investor must invest in the process, in the business. For repairs, equipment, personnel. When he has staff, he will pay taxes, taxes will go into the state budget, and related bodies will develop. And what have we done? If you want to operate in Ukraine, pay for three years in advance and maybe someday you will make a profit. Is it real? This is unrealistic! Further, I would completely abandon the idea of placing gambling establishments exclusively in hotels. This is a discriminatory decision and it has been lobbied by someone. I would instantly, right now, create a kind of union of industry workers. In order to clearly understand who works in the industry. If we do not have a resume base, then where can we find worthy specialists, worthy and correct? Also, I would give incentives to investors. If this is a foreign investor, the exception is the aggressor country, then he should have more favorable conditions than the domestic investor. Because we attract investments from outside. Our law says that we have no internal resources to build the industry. Also, I would immediately take up the implementation of the law. The entire metro, all transport is filled with advertisements for bookmakers and online casinos. I am very in awe of people who have kept the industry, but there is a law. The law is one for everyone, it must be followed. With great difficulty, we came to the conclusion that at least some law was accepted and now we have trouble with illegal advertising. Further, I would accept our national monitoring systems. I would seriously reduce taxation for those who already have monitoring systems in place. You don't need to spend millions of hryvnias on the system, it is there. You just need to take it into service.
In your opinion, what could be the main obstacle to the successful development of the gambling business in Ukraine?
Now there are a lot of reservations, reinsurance. They will not provide an opportunity to conduct the market honestly and transparently. Because there cannot be a mass of crystal clear people who never, nothing and with no one ... And at the same time they understand and know how to build a gambling business. You need to understand how important it is for people to be perfect at the start. On the other hand, it is necessary to create faculties in educational institutions. It is necessary to educate a new generation of specialists who will raise the industry from the ashes. And we are talking about the fact that the beast, driven into a corner, will suddenly become affectionate and begin to kiss your hands - this will not happen.
The conversation was recorded by Anna Reshetnyak.
The gamingpost.net news portal about games previously wrote about the bill on gambling business in Ukraine. All news can be found in a special section of the site.
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