One of the largest lottery operators in Ukraine “M.S.L.” has been included in the sanction list for the third time. In 2015, it happened for the first time. Considering this decision unreasonable, the founder of the company Markos Shiapanis contacted the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine because he wanted to continue acting within the law instead of looking for ways to avoid sanctions. In his interview to “Focus” Markos spoke about this case.
“After we had been included in the sanction list for the first time, we had to shut down hundreds of shops selling lottery tickets and suspend cooperation with many contractors,” he says. “Now we are trying to use all the possible legal means to return to unimpaired operation.”
Markos believes that somebody turned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to redistribute the lottery market illegally and leave only one influential player. In 2014, lots of M.S.L.’s shops were closed and equipment confiscated after a number of inspections. The company appealed to a court and won around 200 cases.
Besides, Markos initiated opening of criminal proceedings to discover facts that could cause inclusion of M.S.L. into the sanction list.
“I wanted to find out whether the company and individuals related to it carried out illegal actions and promoted terrorism,” the M.S.L. founder commented. “In March 2018, the investigation was closed because they found no violation. However, the company was included in the sanction list once again and we were shocked.”
He also evaluated financial losses of the Ukrainian lottery market:
“In 2013 M.S.L. paid 300 million UAH of taxes but in 2016 – only 21 million UAH.”
“Clearly, general situation in the country also had its influence,” Markos added. “But the state is smashing lottery operators.”
He justified his words by giving the following reasons: appeals to the nation to stop buying lottery tickets, unreasonable elimination of equipment, tax reform with unreal allocations (20% from the minimum winning) and, finally, sanction lists.
“The initial purpose of lotteries is to fill up the state’s budget. But I am getting the impression that our state either doesn’t understand it or is trying to oppose it,” the M.S.L. founder concluded.
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