Ukraine’s government has instructed KRAIL – the Regulatory Commission for Gambling and Lotteries – to disband the Advisory and Expert Council on Gambling.
The Council had served as a policy and commercial advisor for KRAIL following its regulatory foundation and had supported the agency’s duties in finalising the remaining regulatory measures of Ukraine’s Gambling Law.
However, an investigation led by media group OSINT uncovered a favourable relationship between Council leader Boris Baum and Russian betting group 1xBet.
In June, four months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government’s Economic Security Council (ESC) raised concerns as to why KRAIL had granted two licences (sports betting and casino) to Tvoya Betting Company LLC (Your Betting Company LLC).
Tvoya Betting was revealed to be the white-label operating firm of 1XBet brands in Ukraine – a business registered by ‘Dnipro businessman’ Serhii Petrovych Tsybin, who had obtained a licence certified by Boris Baum.
Serving as the Council’s First Deputy, Baum was recognised as KRAIL’s lead advisor on taxation, tech policy and market licensing – measures needed to commercialise Ukraine’s newly regulated gambling marketplace following its previous decade-long prohibition.
Baum is reported to have had a substantial influence on KRAIL, in which he was recognised as the ‘deal-breaker for market licences’, and is further accused of lobbying for 1XBet to secure unique payment processing terms, facilitating illicit activities.
Of significance to the scandal, 1xBet is reported to have stoked public anger in Ukraine, particularly by sponsoring an anti-Ukraine rap video.
Lyrical content promoted Russian military action and crimes, featuring statements such as – “The boys from Azov were sitting in kindergartens bombed by the occupiers”.
Ukraine’s ESC has accused 1XBet of having direct links with Russia’s Kremlin and serving as a ‘large scale money laundering organisation’
Baum has been expelled from his advisory position, as the counsellor is deemed to have acted as a 1XBet lobbyist and a facilitator of the Russian government.
Ukraine anti-propaganda website ‘Peacemaker’ reports that Baum and three close 1xBet associates have fled the country, and are reported to be exiled in Cyprus.
Ukraine media has directly asked KRAIL to respond as to why 1XBet’s licence was not immediately terminated following the rap video and Baum’s accusations.
This week, Krail confirmed that it had undertaken government orders and liquidated the Advisory and Expert Council.