Taxes on winnings, licenses with no work and certification - what was discussed at the Ukrainian Gaming Week conference

At the Ukrainian Gaming Week conference, representatives of the regulator, MPs and businessmen. They are discussing when the Ukrainian gambling market will start working at full capacity. Boris Baum, Deputy Advisory and Expert Council at the Gambling Regulatory Commission, answers questions. One of the questions is when foreign operators will enter the Ukrainian market.

"We understand that foreigners will probably wait until we have all the rules laid down," - says Boris Baum.

At the same time, four Ukrainian operators have already received licenses for online casinos. They paid a large sum to the budget, but they still cannot work according to the law.

“We are in a hurry today and are forcing the existing gray and semi-gray market operators that we all know to legalize. So that they take part in the legalization. As for the formalities, all the operators say they don't work. We are now waiting for the confirmation of the document about the equipment required for certification very soon. Then we get already DSTU. And I think that very soon they will be able to receive a certificate and formally work. Although I know that all operators have certificates. We simply cannot formally accept them now. Because first we have to approve the equipment list,” - says Boris Baum.

Emotions start to go off scale when discussing taxation for the gambling business. Legislators plan to leave tax on winnings, but only over 50 thousand won hryvnias are offered to take it.

“It turns out that a player could have lost 50 thousand a month ago. Today he could change a thousand dollars and win fifty. And from all this to pay tax? You are just expelling players from Ukraine. This angered me so much because we fought for this taxation for many years. You drive the business into schemes. You do not pull into a white business, but you either drive into a black one or a gray one. And it will be, there will be schemes again,” - says conference participant Karina Schwartz.

People's Deputy Maryan Zablotskiy answers - in the current economy it is very difficult to discuss a high limit of non-taxable winnings.

“In all countries, there is a limit at which the winnings are taxed. Let's imagine that any winnings will not be taxed indefinitely. This gives rise to an instant pattern. You buy an online casino license for 500 thousand dollars, and you can pay individuals any income without taxation, you don't even need to do online business. Therefore, we need to look for an optimal solution,” - says Marian Zablotskiy.

People's Deputy Maryan Zablotsky recalled that in 2016 there was already an attempt to legalize the gambling business. But all that remained of it was the adopted tax code with high tax rates - for lotteries - 30% GGR, for casinos, online and bookmakers - 18%, and for slot machine halls - 10%. Tomorrow the tax committee will consider a bill in which tax rates have been equalized to 10% for everyone. Marian Zablotsky doubts that he will be accepted. And the head of the All-Ukrainian Association of Employers in the Recreation and Entertainment Industry Igor Makievsky invites legislators to recall their arguments. The explanatory note to the bill states: in European countries, the tax rate is even lower - it ranges from 5 to 7 percent.

“We need to understand that we must impose high taxes on everything. And as in that cartoon: "For a cow to give more milk, it must be milked more often" - in practice it will not work. Likely, the law will not take off in the version in which it was seen. And in this case, if very high taxes are left with high license fees, a significant part of the market will likely remain in the shadows. With all the negative consequences. And then it is generally not clear what they were fighting for, and why it was necessary to legalize and start this whole story,” - says Igor Makievsky.

The discussion is hot, but the work on legalization continues, experts say. And the main indicator of its effectiveness should be purchased licenses, stable operation of legal casinos and the budget of Ukraine being filled.

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