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Ukraine regulator blocks 371 illegal gambling sites

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The Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL), the regulator of gambling in Ukraine, has blocked 371 websites offering illegal gambling in the country.

The restrictions stem from joint action between KRAIL and the Security Service of Ukraine. Order No. 451/2256 was issued to block the domain names of the illegal gambling sites.

The order restricts electronic communication service providers to block websites using their Domain Name System (DNS) servers.

Between April and May, over 1,000 orders were issued to limit access to domain names and subdomains on DNS servers after work between KRAIL and the Security Service.

Uncertainty over KRAIL’s future

KRAIL’s action against the illegal sites comes amid uncertainty over how much longer the regulator will be in charge of governing gambling in Ukraine.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, voted in April to liquidate KRAIL. The vote occurred after over a year of opposition as to how Ukrainian gambling is regulated. The opposition stemmed from frustration over KRAIL’s ability to carry out regulatory work, such as issuing licences.

KRAIL is made up of a collegial body involving a chairman and six members, with meetings only valid if five members are present. With some commission members mobilised into military service following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were lengthy delays to licence applications.

Other measures on the bill included increasing restrictions on gambling advertising, as well as other control measures.

The bill will now face a second reading. Should it pass, the bill would become law when signed by president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

If KRAIL is dissolved, gambling regulation will come under the powers of the digital transformation ministry. Alina Plyushch, a partner at Kyiv-based law firm Sayenko Kharenko, explained to iGB that it’s unclear how long the digital transformation ministry would retain those powers.

“This is pending a further government decision on the creation of a new regulator under the digital transformation ministry’s umbrella,” Plyushch said.

“Another possibility is that the digital transformation ministry keeps the functions of the industry’s regulator.”

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