LOK faces ‘lively and in-depth’ scrutiny in Curacao

Shirley Pulis Xerxen 3 months ago
LOK faces ‘lively and in-depth’ scrutiny in Curacao

Following a recent announcement by Finance Minister Javier Silvania, the newly proposed gambling legislation has made its way into Curacao parliament and discussed during a central committee meeting earlier this week. Local news media are reporting that several parliamentarians criticized the newly proposed National Ordinance on Games of Chance, also known as LOK. In his response to the latest media reports, Finance Minister Silvana issued a press release yesterday stating:

“As I announced on 19th December 2023, the LOK was submitted to parliament as the final stage of the legislative process. This is a required and welcome process as part of a legislative democracy so as there can be wider debate on both the bill’s intended purposes and reach democratic process.  As Minister of Finance, I have always acknowledged the magnitude of this undertaking and I had hoped and expected the debate that ensued to be lively and in depth.”

During the committee meeting, various members of parliament apparently voiced their concerns, expressed their opinion that the law is far from ready, and pointed out confusing formulations within it. Criticism was also levelled at the decision to establish the Curacao gaming authority as a foundation, with one parliamentarian arguing that the regulator should not be dependent on the government to avoid potential political influence.

Media reports have reported that law makers criticised the fact that the draft law was formulated without consulting all stakeholders, missing the perspectives of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten. According to reports, the advisory council urgently appealed to Minister Silvania not to present the bill to parliament in its current form and stressed the need to structure the online gambling sector carefully, with one member expressing concerns that the current state of affairs could harm the country’s eGaming sector. The new draft rules will be further discussed during another committee meeting at a subsequent date, where Minister Silvania is expected to respond to the questions raised during the session.

Not only has the proposed legislation faced scruting in parliament, but the Curacao Bar Association has also expressed criticism and urgently submitted an objection to members of parliament. Within the objection, members articulate serious concerns regarding the proposed accreditation for lawyers outlined in the new draft. The Association is apprehensive that this accreditation could compromise the independence of lawyers and stand in opposition to existing legislation in the island state.

Minister Silvania’s prese release continues:

“First, amidst this entire process we have been all too aware of a significant amount of misinformation, confusion and accuracy, and I strongly urge against the further propagation of unverified rumours or speculation.  Full and accurate information can only be guaranteed when issued by either the Ministry itself or the Curacao Gaming Control Board.” He added:

“I would like to clarify that the current process of license issuance by the GCB under the current legislation (NOOGH) remains unchanged meaning that the Critical Milestones published on 20th December 2023 (attached to this email) are likewise unaltered.

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.  To suggest otherwise would be reckless and misleading.”

The Minister announced their presence at ICE 2024 in London between the 5th and 8th of February. They will be present, he added, “at booth number N9-260 and the team will always be available to discuss with the candour with which we have approached this project from the outset.”

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