On Monday, bill No.2285-d "On State Regulation of Activities for the Organization and Conducting of Gambling" should be put to a vote in the second reading in the Verkhovna Rada. A wide group of experts, politicians and gambling market players have been working for over half a year to make this document an ideal formula for the legalization of the gambling business in Ukraine. The expert group was also represented by the hero of our interview, Igor Makievsky, who knows firsthand about all the advantages of the developed bill and its shortcomings, which can negate the work of many people.
"Business, that, in fact, has not gone anywhere since 2009, will be legalized."
- Igor, you are the head of the All-Ukrainian Association of Employers in the Recreation and Entertainment Industry. Tell us more about it.
- Our organization was founded more than 14 years ago after the government introduced licensing of the gambling business in 2005. Since this was not done quite correctly, it became necessary to somehow defend the interests of business in a civilized way. Part of the entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry found this formula acceptable - the unification of the employers' organization. It is clear that when the gambling business was officially banned in 2009, this naturally affected the work of our association. But, nevertheless, we support this movement and are now taking an active part in the development of a draft law on the legalization of the gambling business in Ukraine.
- How active is your participation in the development of bill No.2285-d, what role do you play in the process?
- This is work along with representatives of other specialized public organizations. We participate in the working group under the committee of Daniil Getmantsev (Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy - Ed.), which is specialized in the development and preparation of the draft law on legalization. It is about direct and active participation in the discussion of the document.
- If this bill is adopted, how will the gambling market work? List the main points.
- If we talk about the positive aspects, then, in fact, there will be a legalization of business, which, in fact, has not gone anywhere since 2009 and has been in the shadows all this time. This is a problem, and we expect that the authorities will have enough courage to legalize this business. How will it work? According to the civilized, we hope, rules that we are working on now and which will be spelled out in the bill.
- Taking into account the amendments that have already been passed, what are the main shortcomings you see in the bill No.2285-d?
- The main drawback is that the bill is over regulated. What does it mean? In the world, based on practice, there are several approaches to the regulation of the gambling business. For example, in countries where there are several high-value licensing, patent payments, the operator makes fixed payments to local budgets. And at the same time it is exempt from other taxes. Such a model has been implemented, for example, in Georgia.
Another model assumes that there is a system of online monitoring of gross gaming income in the gambling business and this income is taxed. This model exists, for example, in Belarus. Both models have the right to exist, but in the Ukrainian version they tried to combine them into one. That is, we get a very high cost for both the type of activity and the license, in addition to which the legislator plans to introduce an online monitoring system and collect income tax. This is an additional financial burden. Add to this other complications, such as strict restrictions on the location of gambling facilities.
As a result, the deputies of the relevant committee admitted that the regulations are too tough.
- So what is the main goal of all this work?
- In essence, the legislator and the business are groping for the same thing. Deputies acknowledge that the gambling business needs to be legalized, but at the same time legalized in a certain restrictive format. And this combination of the two principles is now being discussed and worked out so that in the end all stakeholders get the maximum effect. That is, for the state, on the one hand, to receive maximum payments to the budget, and on the other, for this business to move away from the format in which it worked before. At the same time, market operators should receive the most transparent and uplifting conditions. Finally, consumers should also receive quality services. They must be comprehensively protected from some unscrupulous operators.
- What is the danger of the Ukrainian approach?
- In simple words, the task of the bill is to achieve maximum economic effect, to ensure maximum budget revenues. If you clamp down and regulate the business too much, then the income will be minimal and the meaning of legalization will be lost.
The full text of the interview can be found on the official website Comments.ua.