Ukraine Bans Online Gambling For Soldiers

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Ukraine Bans Online Gambling For Soldiers
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Ukraine has not only seen ground given up in recent months in the country’s war against Russia, but a new report also notes that online gambling may be becoming popular with soldiers coping with the ravages of the battlefield.

A Ukrainian soldier put forward a petition in the hopes of getting the country to do something about the issue. Critics of the online casinos say that the operators use patriotic ads and tactics to take advantage of soldiers and other Ukrainians.

Gambling has long been a way to kill some time while in battle. Soldiers in the Civil War and World War II were known to play poker to pass the time. But the ability to easily wager on mobile phones has some concerned that Ukrainian soldiers may be developing gambling problems.

“Military life generally has been described as long hours of boredom punctuated by a few minutes of terror, and I think that’s a very apt description," Nigel Turner, a scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, told the CBC.

Online Gambling Causes Controversy

Some soldiers have been on the war’s front lines since the conflict began more than two years ago. After the petition was circulated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered a ban on soldiers gambling. He’s also increased regulations on the country’s gaming industry.

While most people can gamble without developing major issues, Turner said the unique situations Ukrainian soldiers face may put them more at risk and that problem gambling is “elevated amongst veterans and I suspect its elevated, generally, amongst soldiers, partly because they have these very strong risk factors.”

Some members of the military and the gaming industry, however, have expressed skepticism that large numbers of soldiers are dealing with gambling problems. They argue that soldiers should be able to do what they want to with their own money and are simply betting to fight boredom.

Some believe there could be other ways to prevent soldiers getting carried away, including allowing commanders to report on those they believe may have an issue.

“We believe that providing soldiers’ families and military commanders with the right to report soldiers for inclusion in the restricted gambling register may have an effect,” gaming lawyer Alina Plyushch told the CBC.

In 2022, Ukrainian poker player Eugene Katchalov appeared on the Card Player Poker Stories podcast and detailed his own escape with his family from the country as the war broke out.

*Photo: Wikipedia/Ukraine Ministry of Defense