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Ukraine’s military personnel are to be prohibited from gambling on land-based or online casinos for the duration of martial law.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy approved a suite of measures on Saturday (20 April) which aim to crack down on the country’s gambling industry.

The country will also draw up new regulations tightening rules around gambling advertising, especially for ads featuring symbols from the armed forces of Ukraine.

The crackdown follows a petition started by a Ukrainian serviceman, which drew attention to the rising problem of gambling addiction amongst military personnel.  

Pavlo Petrychenk, a serviceman from Ukraine’s 56th Brigade, said: “Military personnel have been away from their families for the third year, in stressful conditions and without the possibility of full rest, so they are especially psychologically vulnerable.

“For many of them, gambling becomes the only way to cope with stress, and therefore quickly causes dopamine addiction and weakens their self-control.”

New requirements

The presidential decree additionally requires online gambling operators to impose mandatory loss limits.

Online players must also take compulsory breaks and are barred from opening multiple accounts with the same operator.

The country will also conduct an information campaign warning of the dangers of gambling addiction.

Further, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health will adopt a clinical protocol for treating gambling addiction within three months. Medical workers will also be trained in identifying the signs of and dealing with problem gambling.

The decree also included beefed up enforcement measures including a site blocking campaign.

The Ukrainian security services will be required to check within two months whether operators are complying with the law.

Petition highlights military gambling addiction

The measures were drawn up by Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, which sent them to the president for approval.

At the beginning of April, Zelenskyy committed to implementing more stringent controls on gambling.

This came after serviceman Petrychenk submitted his petition, which then reached the 25,000-signature threshold for government review.

The soldier detailed security and humanitarian concerns around the growing issue of gambling addiction amongst military personnel.

These included unconfirmed reports of soldiers selling equipment to the black market to fund gambling spend.

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