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Ukraine bans military from online gambling amid addiction concerns

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has issued a decree banning military personnel from online gambling sites amid growing concerns about addictive behavior.

It referenced “the negative effects of gambling on the Internet” and announced that the prohibition would remain in place until the end of martial law, following a resolution by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

In March, Ukrainian soldier Pavlo Petrychenko launched an online petition calling for limitations on online casinos. He argued that such gambling activities were harming both the military and Ukrainian society, and posed a serious risk by exposing the personal data of soldiers. After Petrychenko was killed in action on April 15, his petition rapidly gained momentum and led to government intervention.

In addition, Zelenskyy’s decree includes measures to limit advertisements for online casinos, block unauthorized devices, and establish caps on the time and money players can spend.

The country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation has also been assigned the responsibility of negotiating with tech giants Apple and Google within a month to remove unlicensed gambling applications from their platforms.

Outside of the military, the decree also prohibits online casino organizers from registering multiple accounts for a single player. It sets a maximum limit for continuous daily gambling per account, mandates compulsory breaks during gameplay, and establishes a cap on the total playing time allowed per week.

The president has also urged the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to develop a standard for treating severe gaming addiction within three months. Zelenskyy called for the training of medical personnel to recognize signs of severe gaming addiction in patients, identify conditions that could lead to such addiction, and provide assistance for its prevention and treatment.

Gambling in Ukraine

In early April, the Parliamentary Finance Committee supported a bill that proposed the dissolution of the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries, transferring its duties to the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

Gambling was officially banned in Ukraine from 2009 until its legalization in 2020.

According to Danylo Hetmantsev, the chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, the gambling industry in Ukraine contributed Hr 2.2 billion ($56 million) in taxes in the first two months of 2024, and Hr 10.4 billion ($267 million) throughout 2023.

Featured image: Canva / Ideogram

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