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Curacao’s New Gambling Law

Article authored by Andrew Tait

How Imminent is it?

After a period of silence and uncertainty since January 2023, when the first draft of Curacao’s new gambling law (National Ordinance on Games of Chance, also known as the “LOK”) was circulated to the stakeholder group for consultation, there has finally been an update.

This has come in the form of a short (in terms of length and details) announcement by Mr Silvania, the Curacao Minister of Finance, in Malta on 22 June at the iGaming Next Conference. During his 20 minute speech, he set out the new timetable for passing and implementation of the LOK, by informing the audience that the draft law had been reviewed by him following stakeholder consultation and was now with the Advisory Council for a final review before passing to Parliament for debate and voting into law. He was confident that there would be no hold ups, where the LOK should be law by September 2023. Following this date existing sub-licensee operators would be subject to a grandfathering period of 3 months, during which time they would need to start their application for their own direct licence. 

With this direct licence regime operators will now be held responsible for any licence or regulatory breaches. The Minister in his June 2023 address was adamant that the perception of Curacao as a grey market licensing jurisdiction will change as it implements industry standard AML and Responsible Gambling measures. It will not tolerate rogue operators who do not follow the rules. It’s still unclear how many resources the new regulator will have at its disposal to process the land rush of new applications and ongoing supervision. However just before this announcement he made a press release, [PRESS RELEASE 15 June 2023], which amounted to a warning to existing operator sub-licensees that their errant behaviour will not be tolerated, where he has asked the Gambling Control Board and Central Bank of Curacao to look into allegations of money laundering in relation to that particular operator targeting Brazil. 

The draft LOK in its current form has not yet been disclosed but should be during Q3 2023, as the draft gets read in parliament. From the last draft there were a number of uncertainties and major discrepancies, such as the voluntary or mandatory nature of B2B licensing; the requirement of Curacao based key persons in terms of their experience, expertise and seniority; information exchange and cooperation with foreign authorities during investigation and enforcement proceedings; and so on. 

With the Curacao national elections coming up next year, as  well as the inspection by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in the second half of 2024 on the effectiveness of Curacao’s  AML/CFT supervision, we can expect a push to get the LOK in place  ASAP and an uphaul of its AML regime.

For comprehensive information on the regulatory landscape in Curacao and other jurisdictions, visit the Advennt digital platform. Stay updated on gambling and skill gaming regulations with insights from expert law firms worldwide.