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Here We Go Again – Curacao LOK Rejection

Here We Go Again – Curacao LOK Rejection

In a development that has sent ripples through the offshore gambling industry, the Parliament of Curacao has rejected the Landsverordening online kansspelen (LOK) law. This decision comes as an unexpected blow to industry stakeholders who had been preparing for the implementation of this new regulatory framework in 2024.

The LOK law was designed to replace Curaçao's outdated legal setup for online gambling. Its rejection is particularly significant given the assurances from the Curacao Ministry of Finance throughout 2022-2023. The Ministry had consistently promised that the LOK would establish new rules for the gambling industry to alleviate the industry's anxiety over impending changes.

The draft version of LOK was introduced to the Curaçao Parliament in December 2023.

Instead of a quick adoption, the LOK has faced criticism from various quarters, including parliamentary groups, the central banking authority, the AML watchdog, and the legal professional association. Despite optimistic comments from the Ministry of Finance about resolving issues swiftly, extensive debates over the LOK are inevitable in the coming months.

Implications for the iGaming Industry:

Extension of Sublicenses: The rejection of the LOK law likely means that sublicenses will be extended again, at least until the end of 2024. This extension ensures that the existing sublicensing arrangements will continue for another year, providing temporary operational stability for current license holders.

Changes in the Next Draft of LOK: There is a strong likelihood that the upcoming draft of the LOK will include more provisions, diverging significantly from the evolutionary approach initially promised by the Ministry of Finance. This shift towards potentially radical changes increases uncertainty for operators who had been preparing for a different regulatory trajectory.

Opportunities for Competitor Jurisdictions: The delays and turmoil in Curacao’s legislative process extend a window of opportunity for competitor jurisdictions like Anjouan, certain Canadian territories, and the Isle of Man. These regions, known for their flexible licensing models, might attract operators seeking to avoid the regulatory instability in Curacao.

This rejection of the LOK law marks a critical juncture for Curacao's online gambling industry. It necessitates vigilance and strategic agility from operators and stakeholders as they navigate this period of regulatory uncertainty and prepare for a landscape that may look quite different than anticipated.