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Ukraine’s Bureau of Economic Security (ESBU) announced it shut down four underground gambling establishments in the Shevchenkivskyi, Solomyanskyi and Svyatoshynskyi districts of Kyiv.
Following a series of raids at the illegal gambling premises, detectives from the ESBU’s territorial administration in Ukraine seized 120 items of computer equipment with an estimated market value of UAH1.5m (£32,000/€37,000/$40,000).
So far, the ESBU’s pre-trial investigation found certain individuals linked to the operation organised gambling without the necessary licences.
Detectives have also established the ringleaders ran the syndicate without creating a legal company or entity, in violation of the law. The gambling establishments were principally found on the ground floors of residential buildings.
Gambling ring conceals activities from authorities
The operators of the gambling ring took steps to conceal their activities from the authorities.
The ESBU highlighted the businesses opened only to trusted customers and operated only after the city’s midnight curfew.
The government established the curfew as a result of the introduction of martial law following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Additionally, guards protected the establishment and monitored it under 24-hour video surveillance.
The police said they are currently in the process of building a list of all the persons involved in the scheme.
The investigation will continue on the basis of Part 1 of Article 203-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (illegal activities of organising or conducting gambling games, lotteries).
As such detectives from the Territorial Department of the Security Intelligence Service in Kyiv will continue the investigation under the guidance from prosecutors from the Kyiv city prosecutor’s office.
Slot parlours only permitted in hotels
Under current law, it is only legal to place slot machines in three- to five-star hotels, while casinos can be in operation as four- to five-star hotels.
The law, which was established in July 2020, subjects slot parlours to a $1.2m licence fee and a 28% tax on revenue. The law also limits punters to 21 years of age and older.
Due to the costs of the ongoing war against the Russian Federation, crimes depriving the state of tax revenue have risen in priority over the last year.
The raid is just the latest enforcement action the ESBU has taken against illegal gambling establishments in the Kyiv region.
In June, detectives announced they had uncovered an underground casino and seven other gambling houses, seizing UAH100,000 of the course of the operation.
In May, the Bureau exposed a criminal conspiracy involving a Ukrainian bank and a large number of gaming operators.
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