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Ukraine bans 2,500 illegal gaming sites

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The Ukrainian prosecutor’s general’s office has, along with the law enforcement agencies, blocked over 2,500 sites that contained unlicensed gambling material.

In 2023 and in 2024, the prosecutor’s office has released statistics detailing their work so far to stop illegal gambling.

As of April 2024 it was reported that over 450 gambling offenses were being investigated. Seven of the 72 indictments sent to courts relate to members of 68 criminal gangs. So far in 2024, 76 crimes have been reported.

The prosecutor general’s office reported that 169 gambling offenses were recorded in 2023. In total, 52 charges were filed against 97 individuals. During the past year, more than 7,000 items of equipment including computers were confiscated. Around 500 searches took place.

In 2023, 700 addresses have been investigated by the police for gambling-related crimes. Ten casinos also had to suspend their operations. A court also heard ten charges against 42 criminal gang members.

Investigations are ongoing

A pre-trial probe is also being conducted by the prosecutor’s office into a sanctioned entity that has not been named. This entity allegedly conducted illegal gambling on the basis of resources from an international operator’s office. At that time, it was claimed the entity fell under the control Russian Federation citizens.

Prosecutors are currently giving advice on the proceedings that will be brought against those companies who have been accused of running illegal online casinos. In one example, guidance is being given in a case addressing the legalisation of funds from illegal online gambling, totalling UAH4.8bn (PS96.9m/EUR113.0m/$120.9m).

Days after Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted to disband the gambling regulator KRAIL, the prosecutor’s general office published the most recent illegal gambling statistics. On 24 April, the vote was held following submission of a draft law entitled Draft Law No. 9256 which suggested KRAIL’s removal. Total of 272 legislators voted in favor.

The original bill, submitted in 2023 by the Deputy Premier Fedorov. The bill must pass the second reading, and then be approved by Volodymyr Zelenskyy to become law.

The bill also contains other aspects that aim to further restrict gambling in Ukraine. The bill also proposes new safeguards for people who are vulnerable to gambling-related harm, and a ban of ads.

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