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  • Curaçao’s gaming law heads to parliament amid global competition
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Curaçao’s new gaming law, the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), has been officially submitted to parliament and is now awaiting approval.

The LOK, which covers the set up of a new industry regulator known as the Curaçao Gaming Authority as well as a B2C and B2B licensing regime, serves as the cornerstone upon which Curaçao is constructing its future as a gaming hub.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Javier Silvania emphasised that Curaçao, moving ahead, would shed its reputation as the “red-headed step-child” of the gambling industry and underscored the country’s commitment to holding operators accountable to international standards.

Silvania now expressed enthusiasm as the LOK progressed to the next phase, stating that the “submission of the LOK to Parliament is not just a procedural step, but a leap towards transformative progress.” 

Silvania further stressed that the LOK is the result of “extensive consultations and collaborative efforts across the entire online gambling industry.”

He described the new legislation as well-rounded, workable and catering to the diverse needs of all current and future stakeholders, while bringing revenue and employment opportunities to Curaçao.

A rocky road

Curaçao initially signaled its intent to revamp its iGaming regulatory structure in the summer of 2022, aiming to eliminate the current master and sub-licensing system.

However, the move didn’t garner unanimous support within the industry. 

The proposed overhaul encountered resistance, leading operators to consider contingency plans and explore alternative jurisdictions for licensing.

CEOs in the industry expressed concerns about the proposed introduction of new deposit thresholds and player KYC procedures. 

It was feared these changes would escalate operational costs and potentially undermine Curaçao’s standing as a thriving iGaming hub.

The uncertainty surrounding the alterations had prompted Tim Heath, founder of Yolo Group and Yolo Investments, to predict a mass exodus of operators last year in anticipation of the island’s new licensing regulations.

While the number of operators committed to staying in Curaçao remains uncertain at this point in time, as of now there has been no mass departure.

“Curaçao continues to grow in maturity now, with their improved and updated regulations, and I fully support them and their approach,” Heath said following news of the LOK’s submission to parliament. 

Anjouan and Khanawake

Nevertheless, success is not assured. 

Heath noted that numerous operators are still exploring alternative jurisdictions such as Anjouan or Kahnawake, expressing a sentiment that Curaçao is now perceived as “too white.”

Anjouan, positioned within the Indian Ocean and forming part of the Comoros, has fast emerged as a preferred alternative due to its minimal local requirements.

Elsewhere, in Quebec, Canada, the autonomously operating Kahnawake Mohawk Territory has licensed more than 250 gaming sites. 

Additionally, in this competitive landscape, the Isle of Man and Costa Rica stand out as strong contenders.

All four jurisdictions are actively courting operators and seeking to attract businesses away from Curaçao.

In a recent effort to showcase its appeal, Curaçao highlighted a reduction in licence fees from a current cost of €61,700 to €49,200 per annum under the new legislation.

Meanwhile, Finance minister Silvania has indicated that the country will soon unveil specific timelines regarding the final implementation of the LOK.

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