Curaçao Minister Blasts Online Gambling Bill 'Misinformation'

January 12, 2024
Curaçao’s finance minister has complained of “misinformation” about its draft online gambling bill, adding that a licensing timeline issued on December 20 has not changed.

Curaçao’s finance minister has complained of “misinformation” about its draft online gambling bill, adding that a licensing timeline issued on December 20 has not changed.

A press release by minister Javier Silvania issued on Thursday (January 11) did not address specific complaints, but comes on the heels of articles in the Netherlands Antilles and elsewhere that have detailed concerns about the draft bill.

The new gambling legislation, called the National Ordinance of Games of Chance (LOK), has been criticised by parliamentarians, the Bar Association of Curaçao and an influential Advisory Council.

“We have been all too aware of a significant amount of misinformation, confusion and [in]accuracy, and I strongly urge against the further propagation of unverified rumours or speculation,” said Silvania. “Full and accurate information can only be guaranteed when issued by either the ministry itself or the Curaçao Gaming Control Board.”

Criticisms have included an Antilliaans Dagblad opinion piece which claimed that the draft bill submitted to parliament on December 19 contained almost no changes, despite an extensive critique by the advisory council.

The council’s critique suggested that the bill should be completely reworked.

“Minister Silvania was and is in a great hurry,” the opinion piece said.

The council’s concerns included that the proposed new regulator, the Curaçao Gaming Authority, might not be sufficiently independent from government and that a proposed fee structure was not coherent or efficient.

The council also said a planned transition from the current regulator, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB), to the Curaçao Gaming Authority, is not detailed.

In a press release on Thursday (January 11), Silvania said the GCB’s “critical milestones” document issued on December 20 laying out a transition from the old law to the new one remains in force.

“The GCB is acting on delegated authority from the minister in this regard and is fully committed to this process in advance of and until the enactment of the LOK, whenever that may transpire, and the GCB has my full support during this period of transition,” he said.  

Current legislation, which dates to the 1990s, has a system of master licensees and those licensees have issued sublicences that are not directly monitored by government.

The LOK is envisioned as a reformed system that will end complaints about reckless Curaçao-based online gambling operators, plus bring in tax income for the government and generate local employment.

From March 31, registration of current sublicensees and any subsequent application under the new legislation will not be possible, according to the milestones document.

From December 20, no extensions or renewals of master licensees have been allowed.

A GCB portal has been accepting registrations for applicants and sublicence holders since November 1.

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