During the five months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the country’s gaming industry has done its part for the war effort. It is also struggling for its future in a peacetime Ukraine, whenever that happens.
When the invasion began, the industry worked to relocate refugees away from the war zone. Members raised money and some enlisted in the army.
The gaming industry initiated campaigns to raise money for the war effort and to help refugees.
Help has also come from the gaming industries in other countries. Recently the national lottery of France, Française des Jeux (FDJ), contributed €200,000 ($203,552) for refugees who came to France from Ukraine.
The country also has its own newly regulated gaming market. Online gaming, bookmaking and brick-and-mortar casinos were legalized in 2020. Gaming suppliers based in Ukraine also supply the industry internationally.
Igor Petrenko, a doctor of political science at Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko National University, recently said in a blog post: “The Vbet company launched the ‘We Care Fund’ initiative, which collects funds for humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Deductions for the fund are made for every spin and bet in the live casino, as well as for activity in other games in which the We Care Fund logo will appear.”
Petrenko added, “So, as we can see, the legal organizers of gambling games in Ukraine, both online and land-based, make a lot of efforts to save jobs, support the army, and attract their customers to help the Armed Forces. Of course, not everything can be done—in particular, not all jobs can be saved—but what has already been done is an urgent and important help to the country.”
One of the first licensed casino operators in Ukraine, the Kyiv-based Parimatch, was very public about its support of the war effort from the start. The company defiantly declared: “We stay in Ukraine. We work here and we want to be here.”
The Ukrainian Gaming Council, which is as young as the industry itself, represents the great majority of the industry. Shortly after war began, the organization declared, “All operators, and UGC, try to help the army in different ways: from money support to media activities.”
Yet the industry is also about self-preservation. The council’s chairman Anton Kuchukhidze recently wrote in a blog: “Despite the challenging economic situation and unfavorable business conditions, legal gambling operators continue to work, pay license fees, and provide whatever help they can to the state in its war against Russia.”
He praised recent efforts taken by the government to keep licensed operators in the country. The Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries has ruled that during the period of martial law, gaming licenses don’t need to be renewed. This allows legal operators to defer their fees until peacetime.
Kuchukhidze added, “This initiative allows legal operators to officially suspend their activities and not bear legal and financial risks. Such synergy between business and the state indicates a high level of trust between the sector and the regulator, achieved in just two years of the legal gambling market.”