The development of a new economy sector means a long-term legislative process of creating regulatory and tax frameworks. However, one can’t build an efficient regulatory system in all directions at once. That is why the most forward-thinking representatives of the emerging market often develop new rules of the game, which they undertake to follow to ensure its stable operation.
The Memorandum on Advertising signed by 11 licensed gambling operators – members of the Ukrainian Gambling Council is an excellent example of such market self-regulation. Being an initiative of legal gambling operators, the Memorandum does not expand or supplement the specialized legislation. It is a set of rules based on responsible gambling principles, which licensed operators have agreed to follow when implementing their advertising strategies.
The Memorandum regulates offline and online advertising of gambling products and services. It seeks to counteract the involvement of minors, gambling addicts and other vulnerable populations in gambling, as well as to prevent the emergence and distribution of online advertising misleading players and harming the brands of other licensed market participants. This instrument encourages legal operators to advertise their products and services as entertainment rather than a way to make money.
The Memorandum was well received by the government and supported by the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries. Legal operators took initiative and confirmed their commitment to the systemic development of the gambling market in Ukraine. They also established for themselves and the State an informal mechanism to assess the level of social responsibility of any legal market participant.
However, in addition to its main regulatory objective, the Memorandum also has at least two other crucial functions.
1. Image-building function. During the 11-year ban on gambling in Ukraine, illegal operators have created the most negative image of the gambling business. That is why today’s communication of legal operators, including advertising, should seek to portray the gambling industry as a modern socially responsible business. This is facilitated by the memorandum rules, which also prevent aggressive, inappropriate or intrusive advertisement contributing to negative attitudes towards gambling.
2. Political function. Despite all achievements of the legal gambling market and billions of hryvnias of internal revenues, some “experts” continue to actively criticize it, benefiting a number of politicians and populists interested in the failure of reforms and the support of illegal market participants. The fact that legal gambling operators are capable of effective self-regulation and social responsibility shows that there is no alternative to gambling legalization. This significantly weakens the position of its opponents pursuing their own political goals.
As the Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, I would like to note that all legal gambling market participants may sign the Memorandum. It means that any licensed operator may apply to the UGC to accede to this instrument by undertaking relevant commitments. Only through joint efforts and such legal operators’ initiatives one can fight against illegal market participants and build a civilized gambling market in Ukraine.
Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, exclusively for the “Ukrainian News”