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An unnamed sanctioned online gambling operator is being investigated by Ukrainian law enforcement for Russian links.  

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Saturday (27 April) that a pre-trial investigation is currently underway into a sanctioned online operator.

The business has been accused of being controlled by Russian-based individuals and of conducting illegal bookmaking activities.

The alleged operation is based on the resources of an international bookmaker’s office, said the prosecutors.

Ukraine tackling unlicensed gambling

The prosecutors also outlined the steps the country has taken to combat unapproved gambling over the previous two years.

Over 2,500 unlicensed gambling sites have been blocked by Ukraine’s government since 2023.

Additionally, more than 450 criminal offences relating to unlicensed gambling are being investigated by the department as of April 2024.

This has led to 72 individuals being indicted so far this year, compared to 97 in 2023.

The government body added that it has seized more than 7,000 units of computer equipment in approximately 500 police raids.

Increased attention

The news comes at a time of increased attention towards gambling in Ukraine.

A widely circulated petition started by a Ukrainian solider was drawn up last month, detailing growing gambling addiction among military servicemen.

In response, the government has passed a suite of measures aimed at combating this, including limitations on soldiers gambling during the current period of martial law.

New restrictions on advertising have also been passed by Ukraine’s parliament, involving bans on iGaming sites using the symbols of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukraine last week passed a bill that would dissolve its gambling regulator and hand its responsibilities to the Digital Transformation Ministry.

The Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) was widely criticised in 2022 for failing to take sufficient action against Russian-linked 1xBet.

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