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Anton Kuchukhidze: How the legal gambling philosophy manifests itself during wartime

There are many prejudices surrounding gambling. Many of them have emerged and taken root because of illegal gambling establishments. That is why the gambling social responsibility discussions resulted in, at best, misunderstandings and scoffing. Interestingly, the situation changed drastically with the beginning of the gambling legalization campaign and the war.

When I talked about the social responsibility of gambling companies before the war broke out, I often faced a lack of understanding in Ukraine. Some even refused to believe in gambling responsibility, but most did not understand how it might look and work. Most people associate gambling with entertainment, but not social responsibility, social projects, or humanitarian aid.

The only gambling representatives that were somehow associated with charity were betting companies due to their traditional sponsorship of sports, which makes sense since these spheres are almost like blood brothers.

In fact, the Ukrainian legal gambling business demonstrated the ability to social responsibility long before the war. Legal gambling operators invested heavily in individual and collective projects in responsible gambling, particularly advertising.

However, following the outbreak of war, legal gambling clearly demonstrated that it may both take responsibility within its industry and mobilize resources to help the State achieve its strategic goals. Strange as it may seem, during a full-scale war legal gambling demonstrated its willingness to help both the State and its people.

The social responsibility of gambling manifested itself in several directions simultaneously.

1. Financial aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the population. Legal gambling operators transferred tens of millions of hryvnias to support the country’s army and people. In addition, even land-based gambling operators, whose establishments today are closed, provided financial support.
2. Some companies have attracted their HR, technical and other resources to the volunteer activities, and cooperated with humanitarian organizations, for instance, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society.
3. Online products were updated so that gamblers may now automatically transfer a certain sum to support the army and people while playing a game of chance.
4. Charity tournaments were held, with the collected funds transferred to help the war-affected population.

These activities of the legal gambling business significantly improve public attitudes towards gambling as a socially responsible business in a broad national sense. This trend is indisputably positive. After the war, legal gambling will no longer be associated with “one-armed bandits” and foul play.

Today, legal operators prove to be allies of the State in the fight for the freedom of the country where they work and pay taxes and license fees. And this is crucial to understand because it is legal gambling operating according to the law that provides support. The social responsibility has nothing to do with illegal establishments which are still open and harm the State even despite the war.

Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, exclusively for the Ukrainian News
Anton Kuchukhidze