Gambling Commissioner in Ukraine Arrested for Bribery
The Ukraine gambling commissioner has been arrested on charges of bribery.
It’s never a good idea to be involved in a bribery scheme, especially if the incident is connected to the gambling industry. In Ukraine, anti-corruption law enforcement groups have announced that the commissioner of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries in the country has been arrested for accepting bribes. The individual took the bribes and provided rulings in favor of the briber.
According to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the fraudulent activity was first discovered in the early summer months. Detectives were able to learn that illegal benefits were accepted by the commissioner in exchanged for licensing and permits within the gambling industry. This is a big deal, especially since the gambling industry in the area is relatively new.
The anti-corruption group and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office created a plan to investigate the matter using undercover detectives. The gaming regulator, who remains unidentified, was approached by the detectives and discussions were had about licensing.
The regulator reportedly asked the detectives for $90,000. For the payment, he would then provide licensing permits to businesses located in Zaporizhzhia and Chernihiv. He was caught in the act of bribery and will now face charges in court for his actions.
Who Is It?
While officials over the case are not releasing the name of the defendant, news outlets in Ukraine believe they know who is involved. Several reports name Yevhen Hetman as the individual involved in the scheme. When the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries was created in 2020, Hetman was the interim chair.
Back in 2009, the then president made gambling an illegal activity. However, in 2020, President Volodymyr Zelensky decided to end the ban and put a new regulator in charge. The country is said to be able to produce as much as $200 million in gaming taxes a year from the industry.
As the industry opened, many businesses sought licensing, from hotels to other venue types. Of course, applications had to be filled out and approved by regulators. In 2021, a total of 40 gaming licenses were approved. Among the venues that have been approved for licensing includes the Premier Palace and Fairmont Grand.
If the charges of bribery are true, it will be interesting to see which license holders were willing to pay up in order to be approved by the regulator. Will any major providers lose their licensing for corrupt behavior?
In the gambling industry, it is essential that all activity is conducted with transparency. For an industry to be successful, regulators need to be trusted. These individuals are in charge of ensuring consumer protections as well as operator liability and services.
When a regulator fails to act accordingly, it puts distrust in the industry. Operators that have a good reputation will be unwilling to seek licensing in the region as it might sully their reputation. While this recent incident involves just one individual, it still must be considered carefully, and steps taken to ensure that such action will not happen again.
It is unclear as to what the accused will face if he is found guilty. It would not be surprising to see some action taken be it jail time and/or fines. The companies involved will most likely also have to deal with potential repercussions due to their actions.
Only time will tell what will occur in Ukraine, but either way, the charges are not a good look for the industry that is just getting started with a new gambling industry.