Date: 07.06.2024

by Adam Dworak

Ukraine’s Gambling Regulator KRAIL Blocks 371 Illegal Websites

The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL), Ukraine’s gambling regulator, has taken decisive action against illegal gambling activities by blocking 371 websites offering unauthorized gambling services in the country.

Joint Action Against Illegal Gambling

This significant crackdown was the result of joint efforts between KRAIL and the Security Service of Ukraine. Order No. 451/2256 was issued to block the domain names of these illegal gambling sites, effectively restricting access to these sites through electronic communication service providers using their Domain Name System (DNS) servers.

From April to May, over 1,000 orders were issued to limit access to these illegal sites, showcasing the rigorous enforcement measures taken by KRAIL and the Security Service. These actions underline the authorities’ commitment to curbing illegal gambling operations in Ukraine.

Uncertainty Over KRAIL’s Future

Despite these proactive measures, KRAIL’s future remains uncertain. In April, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, voted to liquidate KRAIL following over a year of opposition regarding its regulatory effectiveness. This opposition arose from frustration over KRAIL’s ability to perform its regulatory duties, such as issuing licenses promptly.

KRAIL is structured as a collegial body with a chairman and six members. Meetings are only valid if at least five members are present. However, some commission members were mobilized into military service following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to significant delays in license application processing.

Legislative Changes and Increased Restrictions

The bill to dissolve KRAIL will now face a second reading. If passed, it will become law once signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In addition to dissolving KRAIL, the bill includes measures to increase restrictions on gambling advertising and other control measures aimed at tightening the regulatory framework around gambling in Ukraine.

If KRAIL is dissolved, the responsibility for gambling regulation will be transferred to the Ministry of Digital Transformation. However, the duration for which the ministry will retain these regulatory powers remains uncertain.

Impact on the Gambling Industry

The actions taken by KRAIL and the Security Service to block illegal gambling websites are a critical step in maintaining the integrity of Ukraine’s gambling industry. However, the potential dissolution of KRAIL raises questions about the future regulatory landscape. The transition of regulatory powers to the Ministry of Digital Transformation could bring about significant changes in how the industry is governed.

Industry stakeholders are closely monitoring these developments, as the outcome will have far-reaching implications for the regulatory environment and the operational framework within which gambling businesses operate in Ukraine.