As tensions continue to grow in both Ukraine and Russia, we at CasinoBeats wanted to see if there has been any impact on the gambling sector and how the Ukrainian regulated market will adapt if the political situation deteriorates. 

Joining in the discussion is Maksym Liashko, Co-CEO and Member of Supervisory Board at Parimatch Tech and Serhey Dzekunov, Chief Business Development Officer at Favbet.

CasinoBeats: Within the last few weeks, have we seen any trends within the online/retail gambling sector?

Maksym Liashko: Considering the sheer amount of news (some of which can be fake or deliberately dramatic), one of the biggest trends not only in the online gaming sector, but also in business in general, is to educate people within the industry about info-hygiene. 

Seeing and understanding the difference between reliable news and fear mongering is no simple task, especially considering the political climate. At Parimatch Tech, we have regular newsletters that not only inform people of the current news, but also educate them on how to consume information. 

Having a motivated, cool-headed, and productive team working on our products is critical, so I believe that cybersecurity and info-hygiene are the trends that will be relevant for a long time, if not always. 

Serhey Dzekunov: Ukraine adopted a law to legalise gambling one and a half years ago and, since then, has made great progress towards launching a legal gaming market. There has also been talk of simplifying tax legislation. What is most important is that this talk of developing the igaming sector must translate into action in 2022.

Over the last year, Ukraine’s state budget received more than 1.5 billion hryvnias through licensed payments from the igaming industry, while the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries issued over 4,100 licences and permits.

The industry is waiting for the necessary amendments to be made to the legislation, and in particular to the sector’s tax regulations. If draft law 2713-d is adopted, the number of licences issued will rise automatically and more companies will appear, including some of the biggest names from around the world.

Our teams are working on promoting the brand, improving our product, and organising marketing activities.

CB: Given the current political climate, how do you expect the gaming industry within Eastern Europe to adapt?

Maksym Liashko: Being flexible and scaling the infrastructure according to the markets’ needs is key to being prepared for anything and adapting to the ever-changing political landscape. Over the last few years, Parimatch Tech built an optimised platform operating on decentralised IT infrastructure to ensure its flexibility and safety. 

We have also invested a lot into making the platform extremely advanced and highly adjustable at the same time. One of the biggest advantages of that is the possibility to host it on any cloud infrastructure. 

Few businesses do this, and we believe that having the privilege of quickly and painlessly adjusting the company’s operations according to the situation is likely to become a big trend in the near future. 

Serhey Dzekunov: Whilst we can’t speak for the whole of Eastern Europe, in Ukraine we have faith and we’re hopeful that everything will be resolved politically, without armed conflict. 

Of course, we’re keeping an eye on events as they unfold and we try to take the necessary measures to ensure security and stable operation under any circumstances. However, we moved the whole business online a long time ago and it can be run from anywhere in the world.

Of course, we always keep backup communication channels and data centres, and in general the entire infrastructure can be rapidly adapted to suit changes in the market – these are the realities of the modern world which began a long time ago, were accelerated by COVID-19, and continue to this day.

One of the key trends in the Ukrainian market in 2022, which will mirror the wider European market, is the strong growth of the online segment of the gambling market. To date, 29 brands have been given licences, 14 of which are online casinos.

In the longer term, the igaming industry will continue to grow and offer its customers ever increasing opportunities to spend their leisure time in new and exciting ways. The market within Ukraine has only existed for a very short time and is becoming increasingly attractive to igaming operators.

CB: Are there any contingency plans within the gaming sector in place to deal with the changing political climate?

Maksym Liashko: We understand that our main responsibility is to take care of our specialists and their families, maintain transparency and legality of labour relations, ensure safety, comfort, and inclusivity within the workplaces together with ensuring the rapid development of the business. 

We do have contingency plans for the worst-case scenarios. Still, in the light of the recent events, we are adjusting and diversifying them to the best of our abilities. For instance, the recent unrest in Kazakhstan was followed by the internet shutdown, and some of our local developers were unable to work. This situation gave us an understanding of the additional potential risks we should be prepared for.

Serhey Dzekunov: Of course, just like with any business. We are always analysing various scenarios and attempting to predict the potential outcomes, along with the measures we’ll need to take in response.

For example, we’ve backed up our communication channels, bolstered security around our infrastructure, built new data centres, and diversified the software we use for our content.

Of course, these expenses are necessary in order to keep the business secure and to maintain the high quality of the services we offer our customers. Naturally, we are moving in the direction of automating all of the company’s processes to reduce the impact of the human factor on our ecosystem, without harming the quality of our services and customer satisfaction. 

However, this can’t be achieved in every area of the business, even with the technical means to do so, since only a person can quickly and capably manage a product, as well as make it special, unpredictable, and thereby attractive to customers.

The requirements of regulators in different countries are constantly changing or being supplemented, and we, of course, follow these processes closely. We analyse any changes, weigh up the risks, work on our product, and adapt it to meet our customers’ needs as best we can.

One thing is perfectly clear: people want a positive experience, regardless of the circumstances, so we will do everything in our power to provide this, no matter what. 

All of this goes hand in hand with our adherence to the principles of responsible gaming, improving our technical capabilities to enable Ukrainians to set limits on their activities, and keeping them informed about gambling.