Ukrainian regulator grants first licence to Cosmolot Spaceiks operator

Ukraine's Gambling and Lottery Regulatory Commission (KRAIL) has approved the first licence under the Gambling Act 2020, an online casino licence for operator Spaceiks.

According to reports in Ukraine, Spaceiks Ltd operates the Cosmolot brand, which was once owned by the country's National Lottery, but was discontinued in 2019.

The operator must now pay a licence fee of UAH 39m, after which it may be granted a five-year licence.

Spaceiks applied for the licence in December 2020, and while the Commission initially required further information on Spaceiks' ownership structure to ensure that it met the requirement that the licensees were located in Ukraine, it was nevertheless the first approved operator.

"Yesterday's KRAIL meeting considered Spaceiks Ltd's application for a licence to organise and operate online gambling establishments," the regulator said. "After reviewing the documents, the application was approved."

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Cosmolot CEO Sergey Potapov said he was pleased to finally see the start of a regulated market in Ukraine after a long road to legalisation.

"Getting a licence is an important step," he said. "The road to legalisation has been long, but creating a white market has been worth it.

"I really appreciate the team's efforts: the guys have been preparing for this day for months. We also have to give credit to the Commission - it's great when a public body works quickly and accurately."

The Law on Gambling in Ukraine, which allowed gambling on the internet, Danish Casino uden NemID, betting shops, gambling halls and land-based casinos located in hotels, was signed into law in August 2020 after the Ukrainian parliament passed it on second reading with 248-95 votes.

The law includes certain restrictions on operators' locations. In addition to the need to establish a business in Ukraine to obtain a licence, operators must not have a Russian resident or citizen acting as a shareholder or Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO).

The license fee for bookmakers will be UAH 70.8m, while the fee for casinos in Kiev will be UAH 141.6m and UAH 70.8m in other countries. The cost of an online poker licence is UAH 23.7m. However, the tax rates have yet to be determined, despite the introduction of several different tax bills.

In June, Oleg Marusyak, who introduced the gambling law, filed a new tax law 2713-D. This would impose a 5% tax on betting shops, 10% for Internet gambling and lotteries and 12.5% for slot machines. However, it is unclear whether this proposal will be implemented as four tax bills have been introduced previously and the Rada may decide to pass another new bill.

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