Curaçao: Silvania urges rapid approval of new gambling legislation

Curaçao will be inspected by the FATF later this year.
Curaçao will be inspected by the FATF later this year.

Minister of finance Javier Silvania says the National Ordinance for Games of Chance will improve Curaçao’s reputation.

Curaçao.- The National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) has received its first reading in Curaçao’s parliament. Speaking during the session, finance minister Javier Silvania said the legislation would improve Curaçao’s reputation internationally.

Silvania said: “Curacao, as a small island, has faced significant challenges regarding its reputation in the online gaming industry. We have often been portrayed as a hub for criminal activities and money laundering, contributing to a negative image. However, this perception is set to change with the LOK.”

He said the new law “will enhance our reputation by promoting transparency, accountability and compliance with international standards in these critical areas.”

The importance of speed

One of the key areas is money laundering, and timing is crucial with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) due to evaluate Curaçao later this year.

“This year, Curaçao will undergo a mutual evaluation by CFATF where the laws and measures taken by Curaçao to combat money laundering will be scrutinised. Therefore, this law must be accepted and implemented as soon as possible,” Silvania said.

Silvania also expressed regret about “wrong information” regarding LOK, including on the issuance of licences. He clarified that the recent licences were issued under the existing regime, the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH), which LOK is set to replace.

He said the conditions of the new licences would ensure Curaçao licence holders met “the expected standards and operational responsibilities that exist in the gambling industry today – in particular with anti-money laundering which is a critical issue for Curaçao at this time”.

He also denied that LOK had been drafted without industry input, arguing that “widespread local and international input and consideration is a fundamental part of what LOK has become”. He added that LOK will also ensure that Curaçao’s gambling sector benefits the island, arguing that “the government and the people are being robbed of their rightful income”.

“In a well-managed gambling jurisdiction, direct revenues to the regulator are just the beginning of the influx of money. The overall impact is monumental and demonstrates the real potential value to the economy which can start investing more in education, health and infrastructure,” he said.

In February, the Curacao Gaming Control Board (GCB) awarded the first direct licence under its new regulatory regime. The licence was granted to White Star BV, an entity under the Rhino Entertainment Group. The GCB has also issued Digital Seals to three operators: Games and More BV, Geeka Corporation NV, and Small House BV, endorsing these domains and brands.

The news comes 12 weeks after Curaçao launched the licensing process for the new regime. The GCB has been processing new applications under existing legislation and registering sub-licensees that want to keep operating after the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) is enacted.

After LOK is implemented, the new Curaçao Gaming Authority will take over from the GCB as regulator.

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