Lawyers raise concerns over new Curaçao online gambling regulation

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The National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) entered the Curaçao’s parliament for approval in December. The LOK will overhaul how gambling is regulated in Curaçao.

The change has been long pending since 2020 when the Netherlands government requested that Curaçao reform its gambling regulations as a condition of financial relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Curaçao is a constituent region in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The laxity in Curaçao’s gambling laws and regulations led to a negative impact on the jurisdiction’s overall reputation within the international gambling community resulting in the Netherlands directing Curaçao to revamp the legislation. Critics argue that Curaçao’s licensing standards are not as rigorous as those in other jurisdictions known for online gambling regulation, such as the United Kingdom or Malta.

In a letter to the Parliament of Curacao recently, the Curacao Bar Association has raised serious objections to the proposed accreditation for lawyers in the LOK. The Bar Association fears that this accreditation undermines the independence of lawyers and violates existing legislation. 

The LOK states that the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA) can grant accreditations to legal service providers, including lawyers, who provide services to licensees of online games of chance. The Bar Association is concerned that this obliges lawyers to undergo an accreditation process that goes against their professional independence.

The Bar Association urged the Members of Parliament to amend the text of the LOK and remove or modify the provision on accreditation for lawyers to ensure the independence of lawyers and the position of legal seekers. 

A key date in the process is 31 March 2024. From this date, the registration of sub-licences on the GCB portal – and the subsequent application for a direct licence under the NOOGH, if required – will no longer be possible. In addition, no new extensions or renewals of master licences will take place after this date.

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