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Gambling business in Ukraine: From responsible gambling to social responsibility

February 24 split modern Ukrainian history into two periods, "before a full-scale war" and "during a full-scale war." And it has changed not only the worldview of ordinary Ukrainians. It has changed the actions of authorities and the attitude of the business to national needs.

Despite enormous economic losses suffered by local entrepreneurs due to the large-scale invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine, they have been actively helping the State since the first days of the war.

Gambling business in Ukraine has not become an exception to the general rule and continued to allocate a significant part of its income to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and territorial defence units and implement both its own and national humanitarian projects.

Before the war, mainly due to illegal gambling activities, most people viewed gambling and social responsibility as incompatible concepts and believed that the activity of licensed gambling operators was limited exclusively to sports, though directed to socially critical needs.

It took almost a year and a half to show the public that legal gambling is about all companies adhering to responsible gambling principles, that is, providing guarantees and protecting the customers’ interests.

For instance, last year, most licensed gambling operators signed the Memorandum on Gambling Advertising clearly differentiating between advertisement and sponsorship. The Memorandum itself became an internal document of market participants’ self-regulation, establishing the rules of the game for all participants and a shared understanding and interpretation of norms.

At the end of 2021, the Ukrainian Gambling Council, a specialized association uniting 80% of the legal gambling market, also launched a project to provide psychological assistance to gamblers and their families (this project was temporarily suspended).

There were even more plans for further implementation of the responsible gambling principles. However, war has made its own adjustments, increasing the legal gambling activities in social responsibility. In addition to regular work, licensed gambling operators engage in the following activities:

-       financial assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, territorial defence units, and the population by transferring funds to NBU’s special accounts;
-       attraction of legal gambling companies in volunteering and providing direct assistance to refugees and those in need;
-       organization of various types of gambling with the option of transferring funds to the army;
-       holding of specialized charitable tournaments;
-       participation in projects to employ refugees and temporarily displaced persons.

Before the full-scale war, the Ukrainian gambling business focused on following the responsible gambling principles, patronage, and sponsorship projects. Today, domestic gambling has once again proved to be the State’s reliable ally in the struggle for its country’s freedom and demonstrated that gambling could be an effective tool for raising funds to meet protection needs and address humanitarian problems.
Viktoriya Zakrevskaya