Dutch-Curaçao Tensions Rise Over Gambling Legislation Handling


Netherlands-Curaçao   Gambling Law

Tensions have arisen between the Netherlands and Curaçao regarding the handling of the National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK). Dutch State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen has faulted Curaçao's Minister of Finance, Javier Silvania, for failing to properly involve the Temporary Work Organization (TWO) in the legislative process.

According to a recent letter sent to the Dutch Parliament, van Huffelen, who oversees Kingdom Relations and Digitalization, expressed concern that Silvania bypassed the TWO when submitting the draft law to Curaçao's Parliament in December 2023. The TWO is a cooperation body established by the Netherlands and Curaçao to facilitate communication and collaboration on various issues.

Currently, laws are specifically aimed at regulating online gambling companies licensed in Curaçao, including many of those that made it to Techopedia's toplist. The companies can offer their services to people in other countries and are known as offshore casinos. Many offshore casinos like these are rated highly by customers who enjoy fast withdrawals, bigger bonuses, and privacy. These websites rarely require a detailed sign-up process in order for you to play. It isn't just in Curaçao that these sites prove popular; in many countries, they are the only option for online gambling.

Transparency Concerns and Missed Opportunities for Collaboration

Silvania's decision to withhold the draft from the TWO reportedly stemmed from anxieties about leaks under the Dutch Freedom of Information Act. Additionally, he expressed apprehension that the TWO would exert undue influence on the process. These concerns were later alleviated after clarification from the TWO, prompting Silvania to initially share the draft law with the Netherlands.

Following revisions based on recommendations from Curaçao's Council of Advice, the amended draft was presented to Curaçao's Parliament, again bypassing the TWO. Van Huffelen conveyed her disapproval, stating, "The draft National Ordinance on Games of Chance... was sent to Parliament by the Minister... without the TWO having had the opportunity to review it."

While the matter has been addressed with Silvania, and the Note of Amendments has been shared with the TWO for review, the incident highlights ongoing procedural disagreements. Situations like these might further be discussed at future iGaming conferences, too.

Land Package Deadlines Loom

The introduction of the LOK is a key component of the Curaçao Land Package, a set of agreements between the Netherlands and Curaçao. The legislation was originally slated for implementation on 1st October 2023 but has encountered delays. 

The latest update indicates a 30th June 2024 deadline for finalizing the new gambling law. Additionally, a separate deadline of 1st June 2024, has been set for finalizing the structure of the independent supervisory authority mandated by the Land Package. 

The Netherlands and Curaçao have a long history of complex relations, but this recent disagreement regarding the LOK legislation highlights the difficulties of maintaining a strong relationship. It remains to be seen whether these procedural hurdles can be overcome in time to meet the upcoming deadlines.

Curaçao's online gambling industry is a significant source of revenue for the island, and both sides will likely prioritize reaching an agreement that fosters a sustainable regulatory environment. 

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