Police Raid Unlicensed Gambling Dens in Kyiv, Shutting Down Four Underground Operations

Published August 14, 2023 by OCR Editor

Police Raid Unlicensed Gambling Dens in Kyiv, Shutting Down Four Underground Operations

Ukrainian law enforcement agency ESBU has conducted raids in Kyiv's districts, dismantling four illegal gambling establishments. The crackdown reveals unlawful activities conducted in the midst of a curfew, signaling a broader effort against tax-revenue-depriving crimes.

Kyiv, Ukraine's bustling capital, saw law enforcement agency Bureau of Economic Security (ESBU) take swift action against illegal gambling, with a series of raids leading to the closure of four underground gambling establishments. These illicit operations were discovered in the Shevchenkivskyi, Solomyanskyi, and Svyatoshynskyi districts of the city.

During these coordinated operations, ESBU detectives seized a significant cache of evidence, including 120 pieces of computer equipment, amounting to an estimated market value of UAH1.5 million (£32,000/€37,000/$40,000). Subsequent investigations unveiled that the perpetrators, who lacked the necessary licenses, organized gambling activities without adhering to legal requirements.

Notably, the investigation found that the ringleaders of this gambling syndicate were operating without establishing any legal entity, directly contravening the country's laws. The illicit gambling venues were predominantly situated on the ground floors of residential buildings, a clever disguise to avoid detection.

The gambling ring covered its tracks meticulously, operating exclusively for trusted customers and scheduling activities solely after the city's mandated midnight curfew. This curfew, enacted in response to Russia's invasion in February 2022, restricted movement during nighttime hours.

Further security measures included a 24-hour video surveillance system and on-premises guards. As the investigation unfolds, law enforcement is compiling a comprehensive list of individuals implicated in the illicit operations.

The ongoing investigation will proceed based on Part 1 of Art. 203-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine pertains to illegal gambling activities and lotteries. The Territorial Department of the Security Intelligence Service in Kyiv will lead this effort under the guidance of prosecutors from the Kyiv City Prosecutor's Office.

Ukraine's current legislation stipulates that slot machines can only be placed within three to five-star hotels, while casinos are permissible only within four to five-star hotels. Enacted in July 2020, this law imposes a $1.2 million license fee and a 28% revenue tax on slot parlors, while also enforcing a minimum age of 21 for punters.

This crackdown is part of an increased effort to combat crimes that deprive the state of crucial tax revenues, especially considering the country's ongoing conflict with Russia. The actions taken by ESBU serve as a reminder of the government's commitment to maintaining law and order, particularly in gambling and tax compliance.

ESBU has taken action against unlicensed gambling establishments in the Kyiv region, demonstrating a commitment to combatting illegal gambling and supporting the country's regulatory and financial goals.

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