Parimatch suspends Ukraine operations after sanctions

By Marese OHagan

Senior Reporter

Parimatch has suspended its operations in Ukraine in response to new sanctions put in place by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a statement, Parimatch said that it had immediately suspended operations in Ukraine and that Parimatch's Ukraine site was now blocked for players in the country.

On 10 March, Zelensky signed Presidential Decree No. 145/2023 into law. The Decree implemented a decision from Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to impose sanctions on 287 companies – many of which are betting entities – and 120 individuals.

In an address made on 11 March, Zelensky called the move a “new sanctioning step against individuals and legal entities associated with the evil state”, stating that gambling businesses had been withdrawing funds from Ukraine and financing activities in Russia.

“These are more than 280 companies and 120 people who, through gambling business schemes, worked against Ukraine, withdrew funds from our state and financed various Russian schemes,” said Zelensky. “It took some time to prepare the decision. It has been thoroughly worked out and closes schemes worth tens of billions.”

Parimatch accuses SBU of “illegal violations”

Parimatch appealed directly to Zelensky on the decision, stating that it had not been contacted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) regarding the suspension.

“We would like to inform you that during the entire period of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, we never received any requests from the SBU regarding the suspension of the franchise in Russia,” read the statement. “Contacts with SBU employees were only in the form of threats, intimidation and extortion.”

Parimatch also asked Zelensky to verify the NSDC’s decision – claiming that information considered during the council’s decision had been falsified – and to address “illegal violations” carried out by the SBU.

“We ask to instruct you to verify the information that was falsified during the decision of the National Security Council and to take appropriate actions regarding all illegal violations by the Security Service of Ukraine,” Parimatch said.

“We are ready for public discussion, ready to answer all questions of the media and law enforcement agencies and ready to defend our position in court.”

Parimatch statement

In a further statement, Parimatch said it was “looking for a legal refund mechanism” for customers, adding that “customers can rest assured that all personal funds are currently safe, frozen and will be transferred in full”.

“We will expect additional analysis and consideration of the situation surrounding the NSDC sanctions against Parimatch LLC and hope for a future review of the decision,” the statement concluded.

All partnerships Parimatch are involved in have also been suspended, and the business will end all staff contracts. “We understand that stopping all of the company’s operational processes won’t allow us to fulfill our obligations to the team,” the operator added.

Parimatch-owned poker room, PokerMatch, which blocked Russian players in the early days of the conflict, has stated that the sanctions have no impact on the international operations of its PokerMatch International brand.

The operator added that it had paid UAH485m (£10.8m/€12.3m/$13.1m) in combined licence and taxes payments in 2023.

iGB has contacted Parimatch for comment.

GR8 Tech

GR8 Tech, Parimatch's B2B business released a statement confirming that GR8 Tech would no longer be working with Parimatch as a result of the sanction.

“By the decision of 10 March 2023, the National Security Council of Ukraine has imposed sanctions against 120 individuals and 287 legal entities,” read the statement. “One of GR8 Tech’s clients, Parimatch Ukraine, was included in the sanction list.”

“On 12 March 2023, Parimatch Ukraine suspended its operations. GR8 Tech’s cooperation with the company is also suspended until the situation is resolved.”

“GR8 Tech continues to operate and provide igaming solutions and support to its other clients and partners worldwide.”

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