1,500,000 hryvnas for illegal gambling advertising- such a fine is spelled out in the Law of Ukraine on the organization and conduct of gambling. From January 1, it will grow by another 300 thousand hryvnas. But it seems that such fines do not frighten advertisers. Bright billboards with the names of famous brands of gambling halls and online casinos appear in Kiev.
“What we see is a brand advertisement. What is the difference between gambling and trademarks - you need to ask those who have banned advertising of alcoholic beverages, and now calmly look at beer ads. There is a mechanism to bypass the law,” - says Nikolai Melnik, head of the Leviathan analytical group.
Gamingpost.net asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine with a question whether the police are monitoring compliance with the law. But the press service advised us to ask this question to the local administration, because the police are engaged in more serious offenses - theft and murder.
“The police themselves will not initiate these questions. Because these issues can be resolved by the administrative apparatus of the local authorities, which exercise control over the observance of the law on advertising,” - says analyst Nikolai Melnik.
Gamingpost.net went to the administrative office. It turned out that the issue of advertising is also not in its competence. In the KP "Kyivblagustriy" we were advised to contact the KP "Kyivreklama". But Kyivreklama also assured us that they are not responsible for the content of the billboards.
“Local authorities are prohibited from interfering with the content of advertisements, we are responsible for advertising constructions so that they are with permissions. And for the content, for what is displayed there - there are corresponding organs for this. If, for example, advertising provokes aggression or outrages - the State Food and Consumer Service monitors this, they impose fines. As for gambling and lotteries, the legislation is determined by the authorized body - the Commission on regulation of gambling and lotteries. They can impose significant fines,” - says the director of the Kyivreklama enterprise, Alexander Smirnov.
Alexander Smirnov says that he has even received a letter from the Head of the Commission on regulation of gambling Ivan Rudy.
“He describes that the legislation sets the fines that they follow. And they ask us to do something too. If we see or receive any complaints, we will refer them to the commission,” says Alexander Smirnov.
But why does no one point-blankly notices gambling advertisements? Gamingpost.net asked this question to Ivan Rudy. The head of the regulator said that he sees advertising, and it outrages him.
“Unfortunately, the question is not for me why this is happening. We, as a regulator, closely cooperate with the security services, with the national police, with the SBU, recently we had a working meeting on this issue, because for me personally it is painful. I don't like it when I see advertisements on central television channels, not even on the Internet, where there is a complete orgy now, but on central television, where it is clear that this is not entertainment, but “place a bet - get a deposit”. This is a question of the adequacy of advertisers in the first place. There is a law, it is already working, this cannot be done. When the paradigm in the head changes, that the law should not be circumvented, but implemented, I think something will change. For our part, we are doing everything possible to speed up the process of putting things in order in this market. But we need cooperation. If we say “no,” and the advertiser wants to make money, this is a question to his conscience,” - says Ivan Rudy, Head of the Commission on regulation of gambling.
But to appeal to the conscience of the advertiser is futile, experts say. After all, they have long known how to get around the law.
“Everything is very complicated with our advertising. Advertisers are often cunning. If one company provides several types of activities and various services, it can always say that this advertisement is not the service that is prohibited from advertising, but another service that they also provide,” - says lawyer Andrey Tarasovich.
In addition, experts note - until the first licenses are issued - there is simply no one to be fined under the law. After all, the advertised gambling establishments work "in black". Nikolai Melnik predicts that when the market is fully operational, the illegal advertising will be monitored much more actively.
“The operator who acquires a license will start raising the question - why am I paying for a license, paying taxes, but this person does not pay taxes and enjoys all the benefits, he has no advertising restrictions. That's impossible. The operators themselves will begin to put pressure on both law enforcement officers and the regulator. And here the regulator will be responsible. Either draw up an act of violation and prosecute, or contact the police to do it. But then we will come to a discussion about what is operator advertising and what is trademark advertising. And then the most interesting things will start,” - analyst Nikolai Melnik believes.
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