Curaçao’s LOK Gambling Law Still Pending

Welcome to Curacao sign in downtown Willemstad

The National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), a proposed legislation in Curaçao aimed at revamping the region’s gambling regulations, has been a hot topic of discussion. Contrary to circulating reports, the LOK has not been dismissed by the region’s parliament.

The LOK was introduced to the parliament last month (December 2023) as a replacement for the existing National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH) legislation. However, misleading reports emerged last week claiming that the LOK had been rejected by the parliament. In response, Javier Silvania, Curaçao’s Minister of Finance, issued a statement denouncing the widespread misinformation about the LOK.

Silvania clarified two crucial points: first, he cautioned against the spread of misinformation, and second, he confirmed that the license issuing process of the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) remains unchanged.

The LOK’s Journey

Before any law is presented to Curaçao’s parliament, draft legislation is sent to the Council of Advice. On June 12, 2023, the Ministry received feedback from the Council regarding the LOK. The feedback, which suggested that the law could not be presented to parliament, was published online on January 3, 2024. This wording may have led to last week’s misinterpretation.

However, the Minister confirmed that a revised draft of the LOK, which considered the Council’s suggestions, had been submitted to parliament in December, six months after receiving the Council’s feedback.

The Misinformation and the Clarification

Aideen Shortt, advisor to the Minister of Finance, echoed the Minister’s earlier announcement, emphasizing that only the Ministry or the GCB can be trusted as sources for official information. Shortt also criticized the spread of misinformation, questioning how a law that hasn’t even been voted on could have any outcome.

In conclusion, the journey of the LOK law has been marked by misinformation and subsequent clarification. The law, which aims to overhaul how gambling is regulated in Curaçao, is currently under consideration in the region’s parliament.

Understanding the LOK Law

The LOK law essentially establishes broad guidelines applicable to all games of chance offered in or from Curaçao. Key elements of the LOK include prohibitions on illegal gambling, guidelines for issuing, suspending, and revoking licenses, provisions to promote responsible gambling, and the establishment of a new gaming authority.

How the LOK Law is Overhauling Gambling in Curaçao

The LOK law is set to drastically reform Curaçao’s entire online gambling regime by setting up a new licensing body with higher barriers to entry and the ability to cooperate with other regulators to tackle illegal gambling. This will replace the existing master licenses.

Currently, only four businesses are licensed by the government. Each of these then offers out their own licenses on their own terms, meaning that private entities rather than the government wielded most practical control of licensing. This will be drastically changed under the new bill that has been approved by the Curaçao Council of Ministers, part of an overhaul of gambling regulation on the island.

A new system will be set up, with licenses for both B2C operators and B2B suppliers issued by the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA), an independent body set up by the government. Licenses will come with fees, as the government attempts to increase its direct revenue from the gambling sector.

In conclusion, the LOK law is a significant step towards overhauling the gambling regulations in Curaçao, aiming to establish a more controlled and responsible gambling environment.

The National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH) is presently the active gambling law in Curaçao. However, the region is in the process of transitioning to a new legislative framework, the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK). In anticipation of the LOK’s enforcement, Javier Silvania, Curaçao’s Minister of Finance, decided to resume issuing licenses under the NOOGH. “The transition to the LOK law is a significant step towards modernizing our region’s gambling regulations. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition for all stakeholders,” Silvania stated.

New licenses still issued until March 31, 2024

As of November 15, 2023, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) began accepting and processing online gaming license applications from operators wishing to acquire an online gaming license directly from the GCB. However, after March 31, 2024, the registration of sub-licenses on the GCB portal and the subsequent application for a direct license under the NOOGH will no longer be possible.

Aideen Shortt, advisor to the Minister of Finance, emphasized the importance of the GCB’s role during this transition period. “The GCB’s role in processing license applications is crucial. We urge all operators to comply with the new regulations to ensure a seamless shift to the LOK law,” Shortt said.

Regarding the implementation of the LOK law, it was introduced to the parliament for approval in December 2023. The exact date of enactment is not specified, but the transition from the current framework to the LOK is expected to be completed by March 31, 2024. An anonymous industry expert commented on this transition, stating, “The end of the NOOGH licensing and the transition to GCB licensing marks a new era for Curaçao’s gambling industry. It’s a positive move that will enhance the region’s reputation and attract more operators.”

The CGA will have the authority to issue operator/casino licenses as well as supplier/Game licenses and to revoke a license, as a last resort, of any permittee that is not in compliance with the new policies. Companies seeking to obtain a new Curacao casino license will be required to pay an application fee as well as a yearly license fee.

Curacao currently has four businesses that are master license holders: Cyberluck Curacao N.V. 1668/JAZ, Gaming Curacao 365/JAZ, Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) 5536/JAZ, and Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ2. It is estimated that there are at least a thousand operators currently holding one of four Curacao master licenses.

With the introduction of the new legislation, the current system of Master License holders providing Sub-Licenses will end. The new regime will see all licenses being issued directly by the CGA. This means that the operators currently holding one of the four Curacao licenses will need to adapt to the new regulatory environment.

Daniel Horvat

Daniel Horvat

Daniel is a writer for PlaySlots4RealMoney.com who specializes in gambling legislation, casino and game reviews. An avid slots player, Daniel has also worked for the operators in the past so he knows the business inside out, both from the player's and from the operator's perspective. Focused on bringing quality information to players since 2007, Daniel has reviewed hundreds of gambling sites and never shied away from writing a bad review in those cases where the brand was rogue. Prior to joining PlaySlots4RealMoney.com, Daniel has worked on several other sites as well as his own player-focused websites in the casino and sports niches. In addition to being involved with the casino industry, Daniel is a cryptocurrency enthusiast and former miner, which puts him in an excellent position to write about all things crypto-related. In his free time, Daniel likes to relax, read and take online courses. He spent quite some time in the greater Boston area as well as in London.

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