The nationwide ban on casino gaming that went into force in Ukraine on June 25 has not rid the country of illegal gaming operators.
According to the Kyiv Post, the parliamentarian who wrote the end-to-gaming law said 10 percent of the casinos that had been operating illegally before the ban continue to do so.
The lawmaker, Valeriy Pysarenko, a member of casino opponent Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s voting bloc, estimated that prior to the ban, 70 percent of all gaming operations in Ukraine were in violation of the law.
The Post reports that one of the better casinos in the middle of Kiev continues to operate, with a secret entrance for high rollers.
Oleksiy Kosarev, head of the Committee against Organized Crime and Corruption, said at a press conference, “In the center of Kiev, under the noses of the president and parliament, the law is not being observed. If it’s not being observed here, then what about in the provinces?”
A statement issued by the police department of the state tax administration said that 500 mobile groups totaling 1,500 officers were monitoring compliance with the law. By mid July, 155 cases of illegal gambling had been registered and equipment seized worth UAH 27.2 million-$3.6 million.
Pysarenko, however, does not believe the police are doing enough.
“We don’t see the strict measures from the tax inspectorate and the Interior Ministry that could lead to the handing out and payment of fines,” said Pysarenko. “The police and tax inspectors have proved unwilling to fight.”
Pysarenko reportedly sent a letter to Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko asking for a procedure to allow police to close down the illegal operations. He also demanded the sacking of regional police chiefs if casinos were found to be operating in their jurisdictions.
Among the estimated 30 percent of operations that did follow the law but which have now ceased doing business are those of Estonia-based Olympic Entertainment Group. OEG has begun liquidating its local subsidiaries and plans to demand compensation from the Ukrainian government, based on a trade agreement between the two countries.
In a statement, OEG said, “We are also considering turning to the European Commission together with other casino companies operating in Ukraine.”