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Legal gambling operators demonstrate openness and responsible attitude to business

Viktoriya Zakrevskaya
International communications consultant, technologist

May-June 2021 will be remembered for the official opening of land-based gambling establishments: casinos and slot machine parlors.

It is a great pleasure for me as a communications expert to see how gambling operators communicate with the media and society. A prime example is the Shangri La casino press conference or the launch first results from the CEO of the gambling rooms chain Slots City. For instance, the senior managers and owners of these companies are in an open dialogue with all the media who are interested in the industry. They tell journalists about their plans, the first results of their work and the most egregious problems.

According to conservative estimates, the first licensed land-based operators in Kyiv provided more than a thousand jobs, paid hundreds of millions of hryvnias to the budget in the form of licenses, and served thousands of clients in the first month of their work. With their launch, the citizens of Kyiv can see with their own eyes how the modern, completely new land-based gambling business differs from the dominance of illegal rooms near each supermarket at the end of 2019.

In addition, even during the pandemic, notable tourists from the Middle East and Asia have appeared in Kyiv. Traveling to Europe, following the end of Ramadan, they come to Ukraine, sometimes with the whole family, to spend time in completely new gambling establishments, go shopping, visit restaurants and just have a good time.

The problem of combating gambling addiction also did not remain in the shadow of the communication of licensed operators: market operators not only prepared several working documents for the CEP working group regarding the problem of responsible gambling and ludomania, but also enthusiastically share their experience in this matter around the world, as well as enter into partnerships with specialized centers capable of helping people with gambling addiction.

For instance, Helen Keane from Shangri La talked about the practical application of the responsible gambling principles in business, how the personnel are trained according to international protocols for this sensitive communication with gamblers, and that legal gambling operators not only do not encourage irresponsible gambling for the last money, or aged people and people in states that are not conducive to conscious leisure—but also advocate a high age requirement for gambling.

Children and people who are unable to pay a considerable entrance fee have nothing to do in the casino: this is the opinion of Michael Boettcher, founder of Storm international that owns the brand Shangri La.

Speaking about the problems, the management of all Kyiv legal gambling establishments points, first of all, to the problem of combating the illegals. While some are establishing official business according to all, even illogical and unprofitable regulations in anticipation of promoting the development of the industry of the parliamentarians, others continue to work in the illegal establishments, and even allow themselves to walk with impunity through the premises of licensed operators searching for new and old clients. And although it is impossible to close them all at once, law enforcement officers together with legal institutions must make great efforts to identify places and persons working without a license, and bring them to justice.

The second most pressing problem remains the high taxation. If this problem is not resolved, operators will not invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects that require construction from scratch.

If those who took the risk at the start are not able to earn money, other investors will not come to Ukraine.

So, the launch of the market took place, business opened its doors, people could see the difference and experience the feeling of a holiday, gambling industry tourists have already flowed into the country.

Over the next six months, the theme of gambling will take its place among respectable business-related subjects at the level of professional, public discussions. But this will not be enough for a true and practical business legalization of business—the state at all levels of government must bring tax and technical rules to enforceability.

Ukraine can become the center of Europe in legal and responsible gambling. But this potential needs political support. Today, legal business is doing everything possible, including the ambition to unite for the most effective dialogue with the authorities on the UGC platform.

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