he finance sector of Curaçao stands at a pivotal juncture with the impending arrival of the National Ordinance for Games of Chance, commonly known as the LOK. Javier Silvania, the Minister of Finance, paints a vivid picture of the LOK, seeing it as a bulwark against potential grey-listing threats.
LOK’s introduction promises a significant shift in Curaçao’s gambling landscape. Spearheading this change, the island’s Gaming Control Board (GCB) welcomed stakeholders by launching its license application portal at the onset of September. The gears are now in motion, with license applications being entertained starting 15 November. Those who clear the process will gain an interim Curaçao license, with an additional six months for document submission.
Silvania is clear about the stakes at play. He cites the shortcomings in Curaçao’s anti-money laundering (AML) protocols as a potential red flag for grey-listing. Pointing towards Gibraltar’s recent inclusion in the Financial Act Task Force’s (FATF) grey list due to its significant gambling presence, Silvania highlights the perils of lax AML measures. He stressed, “AML remains pivotal for financial evaluations. We’re up for a review next year, and the absence of stringent AML laws in our gambling sector is concerning.”
The implications of joining the grey list are far-reaching. Trade restrictions from specific governments and decreased revenue for local enterprises are just the tip of the iceberg. Silvania firmly believes in the LOK as the solution, stating, “The LOK offers the buffer we urgently seek.”
Economic ramifications weigh heavily in this decision-making process. Silvania urges stakeholders to view the change as an enhancement rather than a disruption. He acknowledges the uncertainty clouding the transition but assures, “Our goal remains to elevate, not unsettle.”
Further diving into the economic aspect, Silvania draws a comparison between Curaçao and Malta. While Curaçao witnessed licensing revenues of €250,000 in 2022, Malta soared with a whopping €82m, as reported by their Gaming Authority. The stark difference in these figures underscores the divergent paths the two islands have taken.
Silvania remains optimistic about the broader employment landscape post-LOK. He envisions Curaçao transforming into a hub for the gambling industry. Expressing hope for the future, he shared, “We aim to establish Curaçao as a benchmark in the gambling sector, thereby unlocking numerous employment prospects.”
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