Online Gambling Will also Make Progress in Ukraine According To Global Trends: Iryna Sergienko, President of Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association

Online Gambling Will also Make Progress in Ukraine According To Global Trends: Iryna Sergienko, President of Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association

What can be the format of gambling sector unshadowing in Ukraine? What is the most promising gambling market segment for business growth? These issues are revealed by Iryna Sergienko, President of the Ukrainian Gaming Industry Association, in an interview with Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference.

Iryna Sergienko is a lawyer and a Member of the Committee on Ethics and Fair Play of the Ukrainian Football Federation. She is a managing partner at Sports & Gaming Lawyers. Iryna is a part of the narrow group of gambling experts who have been extensively negotiating with the Government of Ukraine regarding gambling legalization.

You can discover more about her assessment of the current condition of the Ukrainian gambling market and forecasts for the industry development after legalization in the interview given at KiAC on December 18.

Interviewer: Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference (KiAC).

Respondent: Iryna Sergienko (I.S.).

KiAC: How could you assess the current state of the Ukrainian gambling market?

I.S.: The Ukrainian gambling market situation is actually quite poor. The necessity for legalization has long ago appeared.

One should admit that the market exists and thrives. It obeys no rules and pays no taxes. As of today, only the national lottery and the corruption system benefit from it. I would even stress that it provides profit to lottery companies and their owners. However, these lotteries have nothing to do with the state.

KiAC: Is total unshadowing of the gambling market possible in Ukraine?

I.S.: Miracles happen, but rarely. One should take the first steps towards this area. Depending on the quality of the bill that will be ultimately adopted and will become the law, unshadowing will be either slow and painful or pretty fast and efficient.

It will be a gradual process anyway. Do not expect that everything will be extremely changed tomorrow. This matter should be solved step-by-step. We should take at least the first radical steps.

KiAC: What kind of venues will evolve most rapidly after legalization (casinos, betting shops, slot machine halls, etc.)?

I.S.: It will depend on the final version of the bill. Given what will be specified in the law, we could say what part of the market will come out of the shadow and whether foreign investors join us.

Currently, the bill prescribes legalization and division of almost all gambling business types: offline and online betting shops, online and land-based casinos, poker, slot machines. There are heated disputes over the latter: what restrictions should be imposed on them.

In all cases, we should predict the development of the gambling market only after the introduction of the law. The quality of the law will affect many aspects.

KiAC: What market segment, in your opinion, is more promising for business development in Ukraine: online or offline?

I.S.: Nowadays, we can see a global trend in online gaming. It is quite logical and harmonious with the world’s situation. In other words, players become younger and explore technologies. More and more gamblers prefer playing using their gadgets.

Therefore, regardless of our wishes, we should stand the fact that the world is advancing. A new generation is a generation of online space, smartphones, and other devices. Internet businesses will keep growing. Online gambling will also make progress in Ukraine according to global trends.

As to the land-based segment, a lot will depend on its popularity in this country. Other significant factors include casino location and conditions, whether businesses will be interested in them or not.

I believe that the general tendency will be kept. Gaming will shift to the Internet while land-based gambling venues will become less popular.

KiAC: According to your forecasts, how quickly will the market alter after the adoption of the gambling legalization law?

I.S.: The market can remain the same or transform pretty fast, fundamentally and for the better, based on the ultimate law to be adopted. It should be discussed when we realize what will be the outcome.

There are eight bills. As far as I understand, none of them will be adopted. There is no consensus about the fact that a certain bill is reasonable to continue the further procedure. Thus, it is still early to suppose how quickly the market will reshape.

KiAC: How useful is international experience in gambling business operations for the development of the Ukrainian gambling market?

I.S.: Such an experience is definitely useful. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it is already invented and upgraded. Consequently, one has to take into account international experience in gambling business operations.

We cooperate with the sub-committee and obtain advice for the committee from international experts, foreign laboratories engaged in certification and standardization, as well as online casino and betting market leaders. It is crucial to get an independent opinion not only of local businesses because they will insist on their own advantages. It is important to gain a comprehensive picture.

It's a pleasure to realize that the acting Parliament is trying to work in a forward-looking direction and consult foreign experts and international entrepreneurs. At the same time, the main thing is to make consultations result in actions. Let’s see what such advice will lead to.

KiAC: Do you think the gambling market situation can worsen after the adoption of the gambling legalization law?

I.S.: What I can tell you is the following: there is probably nothing worse than the current legislation (I mean state lotteries). Whatever bill is adopted, although all of them can be surely criticized, it is better than doing nothing and burying our heads in the sand.

On December 18, 2019, Iryna Sergienko participated in the round table that took place at KiAC. Together with other experts, she examined the existing bills on gambling regulation and analyzed the legalization prospects.

Round table results can be found here >>>

Find out more details about the gambling business legalization in Ukraine on 11-12 of March at Ukrainian Gaming Week. Event will feature the major exhibition and a specialized conference.

Find out more>>>

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