Curaçao concerned about the presence of Russian gambling mafia

April 28, 2023  –WILLEMSTAD – Curaçao is “seriously concerned” about the presence of Russian gambling mafia on the island, according to reports. However, the Pisas government is not planning to take action because the current legislation on online gaming would hinder intervention, said Finance Minister Silvania in a press release. 

The minister responded to questions from Dutch parliamentarians Kamminga and Brekelmans (both VVD) after Follow the Money news site reported that Ukraine had placed eight Russian gambling companies that operate online casinos under a Curaçao license on its sanctions list. 

The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has asked the Curaçao government for information to answer the questions of the parliamentarians. Silvania says he gives “the highest priority” to this request “given the seriousness of the situation.” However, he adds that the legislation is so brief that effective supervision of the sector is not possible. 

The minister emphasizes that he is working on a new National Ordinance on games of chance (LOK) to make effective supervision possible. This is at the urging of the Netherlands: “in exchange” for nearly 1 billion guilders in liquidity support, the Pisas government is required to curb the gambling sector. However, progress on the LOK has been slow, and recently, State Secretary Van Huffelen complained that Willemstad was not sharing information. 

Curaçao has the dubious reputation of being the world capital of the gambling mafia. Local master license holders who appear to be reputable are nothing more than wholesalers of sublicenses. These are especially popular with international criminal organizations that can easily launder money earned through drug, human, and arms trafficking via their Curaçao online casinos. 

Although these practices have been known for about 20 years and Silvania calls the trade in sublicenses “undesirable,” no government has attempted to put an end to it. 

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