Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC), has delivered an optimistic outlook on the future of the country’s gambling industry.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a crippling effect on many of the country’s trades and the gambling industry has proven no different, though there has been a considerable upturn online recently.
Naturally, that has not extended itself for land-based firms under the active Russian aggression.
Speaking to CIS markets news source SBCCIS, Kuchukhidze said: “Online operators experienced a colossal drop in traffic in late February-April. From the end of April, traffic began to return to pre-war levels. I won’t say that all online gambling organisers have returned pre-war traffic, but nevertheless, at the moment the situation is many times better.
“That is, online has the opportunity to restore work and think about development. Online business has shown its viability, both during COVID and during the war.
“As for the ground segment, of course, it was they who received the greatest damage, especially those who are in the front-line regions. For example, one of the members of our association has slot machine halls in Mykolaiv – the city is constantly under fire.”
However, the UGC remains steadfast in their commitment to restore an active gambling market, reopened alongside other domestic industries.
“In the west of Ukraine, of course, the situation is better. Both casinos and slot machine halls function there, but, obviously, the tourist flow of people has fallen, and according to the law, casinos and slot machines can only be located in hotels,” Kuchukhidze told SBCCIS.
“We recognise that because of the war, not many tourists are ready to visit us. Therefore, the number of visitors to gambling halls also decreased significantly.”
Last month, the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) in Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gaming Control Authority of Lithuania.
The agreement between the two national regulatory bodies is designed to facilitate greater cooperation and information sharing, aiding Ukraine in the country’s time of need.
Kuchukhidze remains upbeat on KRAIL returning to its regulatory duties as it has ‘retained its role as a bridge between business and the state’.
“We are still the largest association in terms of the number of participants that have maintained an 80% market shareholding,” he added.