Parimatch, one of Eastern Europe’s top bookmakers and online betting operators founded in Kiev, has welcomed the Ukrainian legislature’s recent decision to legalise gambling in the country.
The bill was passed by the Verkhovna Rada with Parimatch, now headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus, saying that it will prove to be a significant generator of income for Ukraine’s treasury.
Parimatch Welcomes New Bill
Via their spokesman, Parimatch has moved to state that they welcome the result of what was a very important vote, and that it was a landmark moment for both Ukraine’s liberalising economy and the international betting industry.
Parimatch continued that their belief was that the development of a fair and regulated betting industry is great news for Ukraine. The approval of the bill will show the world that Ukraine is open for business and will help bring international investment to the territory.
No Russian Involvement
Votes on the bill were taken over the past few weeks without being published in full, while final amendments are still expected to be approved by the Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy.
In what is clearly an attempt to avoid the legalised industry being taken over by Russian-controlled businesses, the bill states that all operators and suppliers of gaming machines must not be run by residents of an “occupying state and/or the aggressor state”.
This statement is also said to cover businesses led by Russian directors, accountants and even ultimate beneficial ownership.
While having moved its operating headquarters to Cyprus, Parimatch is said to be confident that the clause re occupying state ownership does not apply to them and that they are ready to provide their corporate structure if needed.
This is a prevalent point, as it is well known in the region that Russia plies billions into the Cypriot economy and so it remains to be seen whether managers and directors from there have an interest in Parimatch.
Licence Fees Set, Tax Bill Needed
While amendments may alter one or two things, the current version of the bill shows that licence fees for operating online were set at UAH30.7million (around £906,000) to be paid when licences are renewed every five years.
Bookmaking licence fees are charged at 70.8million, while the charge for operating a casino within a hotel is set at UAH121.6million.
With the fees now set, the bill simply needs the signature of Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky. It already contains several best practice standards set internationally meaning it should provide a good framework for a transparent market in the territory.
Given that this bill should now provide a new tax income for Ukraine, the legislature now needs to pass a new tax bill in order to set up how the gambling industry will be taxed going forward.
At present there are five disparate betting tax proposals on the table for the legislature to consider. Recently, a proposal for gambling was filed which would set a 5% tax on bookmaking, 10% for online betting and a rate of 12.5% for slot machines and lottery.
This particular tax bill is the favourite to be given the go-ahead, though four others have been filed in the past and there may yet be a new one which could be introduced directly by the Rada.
Whatever happens with the country’s tax proposals, it is great to see another new territory legalising and taxing gambling as opposed to allowing it to continue underground.