Article By Viktoriya Zakrevskaya, Founding member and Deputy Chairwoman for Communications at the Ukrainian Gambling Council
Viktoriya will be taking the stage at the European Gaming Congress by Hipther, on 31 October at the InterContinental Warsaw, to discuss the emerging Ukrainian iGaming market at the Panel “The Greek Odyssey, La Dolce Vita, La Fiesta Española, The Ukrainian Spirit, and The Portuguese Fado”.
Change is the only constant in the dynamic realm of the gambling and gaming industry. It is time to admit that the Ukrainian gambling industry has survived and is back on the international agenda despite the war. Here is my take from recent discussions with industry leaders, policymakers, and experts on the main tendencies in the gambling industry internationally and in Ukraine.
The Soaring Popularity of Sports Gambling
Sports gambling is on the rise, capturing the hearts and wallets of enthusiasts worldwide. Responsible gambling is not only an important topic but has become an absolute must for the industry. In this sense, further restrictions on advertising are a growing trend across all jurisdictions, and Ukraine is not lagging in this regard either. Last month, the Commission initiated a cooperation agreement between the main government institutions and industry leaders represented by the Ukrainian Gambling Council. The overarching goal of this is to ensure that the industry flourishes responsibly.
AI for Enhanced Customer Experience and Protection
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool within the gambling industry. It promises to elevate customer experiences and, significantly, bolster player protection. Apart from the customer experience, by implementing AI-driven systems capable of detecting problematic behavioral patterns, the industry can help mitigate the risks associated with compulsive gambling. The trend toward legalization is seen as a pivotal step in achieving this balance, and Ukrainian companies are not waiting to implement AI today.
Online Gambling and Emerging Cyber Threats
As gambling platforms increasingly migrate from land-based establishments to the virtual world, including the metaverse, new challenges arise. Among these is the growing menace of cybercrime, often stemming from identity theft. There is a growing need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard both operators and players in this evolving landscape. Solutions in this domain will be in high demand, and there are companies of Ukrainian origin that offer such solutions today.
Ukraine is among progressive countries that formed a global trend for legalization
The world is witnessing a global trend towards the legalization of gambling. Several countries, including Brazil, Latin American nations, additional US states, Canada, the Middle East, and Central Asia, are opting to regulate the industry. Their motives range from rationalizing the sector to minimizing societal risks and creating new sources of revenue. Ukraine’s decision to embark on this path aligns with this international movement despite pushback from illegal operators and Russian aggression.
A shift from Ukraine to Central Asia?
The enthusiasm for gambling legalization in Ukraine seems to have shifted to neighboring Georgia and Central Asian countries. These nations are increasingly capitalizing on foreign investments pouring into their gambling sectors. However, experts suggest that once the conflict in Ukraine subsides, the country will regain its attractiveness to investors. To facilitate this transition, addressing issues like tax regulation and implementing a robust online monitoring system is crucial for Ukrainian policymakers. Moreover, resolving the issue of sanctions against operators like Parimatch Ukraine is paramount, and public hearings must play a pivotal role in this process as the global community of experts, professionals and investors do not understand this decision, while only the government can explain this decision, and admit the mistake, if there was such.
In conclusion, the gambling and gaming industry is experiencing a global renaissance, and Ukraine, with its reform efforts initiated in 2019, stands among the progressive nations in this transformation. To capitalize on this momentum, Ukraine must intensify its efforts, particularly in the realm of anti-corruption.