The State Fiscal Service (SFS) on Sept. 6 announced that it has discovered an illegal online casino employing 60 people, with an annual turnover of over $30 million.

Since gambling was legalized a year ago in Ukraine, online and offline casinos have to buy a license and pay taxes to operate in the country.

According to the SFS, the organizers of the alleged criminal enterprise did not buy a license, disclose their financial results or pay their taxes, which attracted the attention of authorities. 

“According to operational data, the untaxed turnover of this business over the past year amounted to more than $30 million dollars,” the State Fiscal Service said. 

According to the service’s statement, the unlicensed casino was run from an office in Kyiv but operated in foreign markets, including ones where gambling is forbidden.


Gambling was legalized in Ukraine in July 2020, after more than a decade of operating in the shadows. Illegal gambling became a significant problem in Ukraine when it was banned in 2009 after a fire killed nine people in a Dnipro gaming hall.

During this time, illegal casinos flourished, reaching annual collective revenue of about $1 billion, by most estimates.

In a bid to stop these seedy establishments and bring more money to the budget, the government legalized gambling in 2020.

The Ukrainian government’s licensing fees are the highest in the world. It costs up to $2 million to open a casino in a 150-room hotel, restricting the opportunity to the wealthiest people.

The newly established Gambling and Lottery Regulatory Commission has already issued 40 licenses since the beginning of 2021, including seven high-end hotels in Kyiv such as the Fairmont Grand Hotel overlooking the Dnipro River.

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