Home » Ukraine Blocks Over 2,500 Illegal Gambling Websites; Investigation Includes $1.2B Suspected Money Laundering Case

Ukraine Blocks Over 2,500 Illegal Gambling Websites; Investigation Includes $1.2B Suspected Money Laundering Case

Following the recent military gambling ban imposed on Ukrainian soldiers over cyber security concerns, the Prosecutor General’ Office reportedly reveals that the Ukrainian lawmakers continue to address the adverse impacts of gambling in the country. As the Kyiev Independent reports, the latest measure to block unlicensed online gambling platforms has reportedly resulted in more than 2,500 gambling websites having been blocked since the measure came into force on 27 April 2024.

Petition Triggered Gambling Bans:

As reported, the measure follows the recent petition to restrict online gambling launched by Ukrainian serviceman Pavlo Petrychenko in March 2024. The petition, concerned over the Ukrainian soldiers’ private data, quickly collected the required 25,000 signatures and was served to the Government in late March 2024 to request gambling restrictions. President Volodymyr Zelensky responded on 20 April 2024 by signing a decree to ban online gambling for military forces as long as martial law, imposed in February 2022, remains effective.

Blocking Websites and Pressing Charges:

The latest decision to block unlicensed gambling sites includes investigations of more than 450 criminal offenses, as reported by the Kyiev Independent.  According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, these investigations have already pressed charges against 72 people and notified 21 people of suspected criminal activities. According to the source, one of the cases being investigated refers to suspected money laundering activities of around $1.2 billion in profits from illegal online gambling operations.

Large Companies Involved in Illegal Gambling:

The Prosecutor General’s Office reportedly also stated that the 2024 figures follow a total of 169 criminal offenses related to illegal gambling websites registered in 2023. In the same year, 74 people were notified of suspected criminal activities, as the Kyiev Independent reports. The Office continues investigations in 2024 with several large companies being reportedly under investigation over illegal online gambling allegations.

Bill Proposal:

Following multiple offenses, criminal charges, and the adverse impact on the country’s military forces, a bill to strengthen gambling operations control was proposed in the Ukrainian Parliament on 24 April 2024. As reported, the bill proposed to transfer the respective authorizations of the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries to the Digital Transformation Ministry was supported by the Parliament. Such a transfer may enable the Digital Transformation Ministry to implement a comprehensive oversight of digital gambling establishments in the country.

Additional Measures:

According to the source, the Parliament proposed additional measures to protect vulnerable categories of the population and enhance the control of gambling businesses, such as online advertising ban, gaming accounts and payment blocks. President Zelensky has recently also called on Apple and Google to block the unlicensed game store content available in Ukraine.

2,500 Gambling Websites Blocked:

Since the measure to block unlicensed websites was introduced on 27 April 2024, more than 2,500 unlicensed online gambling operators have been blocked to improve the country’s cyber security and address illegal gambling issues. In the first two months of 2024, Ukraine generated $56 million in tax revenues from gambling operations following $267 million in tax revenues generated in 2023, according to Danylo Hetmantsev, the chairman of the parliamentary Finance Committee, as cited by the Kyiev Independent.