American hotels giant Hilton Worldwide Holdings Incorporated is reportedly considering plans that could see it open a pair of small casinos within its 262-room Hilton Kyiv property near the center of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
According to a Saturday report from the Kyiv Post newspaper, the move from the hotelier comes after the nation’s government passed an initial measure in December to legalize casinos within hotels and crack down on an estimated 5,300 illegal gambling establishments.
The newspaper reported that the casino legislation is being supported by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and could come into force as soon as this summer following a second reading. If ratified, it would purportedly allow five-star hotels in designated tourist areas such as Kiev to offer gambling so long as they featured a minimum of 200 rooms.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk reportedly told the Kyiv Post that the legislation could moreover permit hotels with only 120 rooms in the cities of Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Odesa to open casinos provided that they were of the five-star standard. He purportedly declared that the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that ‘gambling will be conducted exclusively on the territory of hotels’ while simultaneously removing ‘gambling halls and slot machines from streets’.
The newspaper reported that the proposed legislation, which could lead to an annual tax windfall of up to $190 million, would also cap the number of slots in Ukraine at 40,000 and mandate that no single venue be permitted to offer more than 250 individual machines. The measure would furthermore purportedly prohibit venues offering such entertainment from being located near churches, schools, public buildings and residential areas and establish a new government-controlled regulatory body comprised of a chairman and six commissioners.
The Kyiv Post reported that Hilton Worldwide Holdings Incorporated has refused to comment on the Kiev casino proposition although the co-owner of the 25-story venue, local media mogul Boris Fuchsman, reportedly detailed that he would be willing to invest up to $30 million on the scheme. The founder of the 1+1 Media Group additionally purportedly explained that there is no start date for the envisioned gambling project as both parties are waiting to see the final details of the projected legislation.