Published On: Tue, Nov 7th, 2023

New gambling legislation is a work in progress

PHILIPSBURG — The first draft of a new gambling law has been completed, it appears from the third implementation report that details progress on measures that are part of the country package.

The Temporary Work Organization (TWO) has provided feedback on the draft, but the implementation report does not contain any specifics.

The TWO is still waiting for a proposal for the organizational structure of the St. Maarten Gaming Authority. The Netherlands will also give feedback and advice on this proposal.

Research into gambling addiction on St. Maarten still has not begun, because the deadline for giving this assignment to a third party was not met. “Drafting the terms of reference is more complex than initially expected,” the report states.

Writing the business case for a gaming authority is also encountering slight delays, though a few proposals have already been submitted. The objective is to publish a new Terms of Reference document in October.

All these activities are part of a plan to determine the need for reform of St. Maarten’s physical and online gambling sector. “The aim is to increase revenue for the government,” the report states.

For the drafting of new gambling legislation, St. Maarten is tasked with writing the necessary national decrees containing general measures (usually referred to as LBham).

Overall, progress in St. Maarten with the execution of country package-reforms is going reasonably well. Only one issue got a ‘red flag’ meaning that there is no progress at all.

This concerns an advice from the Social Economic Council (SER) about general health insurance and the effectiveness and efficiency of long-term care. “The SER is currently awaiting their new board members and as such will not advise on any legislation.” the report states. “An urgent request for advice has been submitted to the Council of Advice. The response is pending.”

Another hot topic is the restructuring of the management of the crime fund. A policy plan and a crime fund manual are now in place but the implementation of measures is limited due to staff shortages, the report states. Part of this measure is also the establishment of a crime prevention steering group. The national decree to make this happen is not there yet and therefore the report states that the projected deadline of November 1 will change.

While St. Maarten gets just one red flag, Aruba had two and Curacao even ten. “A red flag marks a serious risk that the realization of these and possibly other measures are at risk,” State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen (Kingdom Relations) writes in a letter to the Second Chamber.

The state secretary remains nevertheless optimistic, stating that delays are “necessary for a careful, participatory and sustainable process.”

Van Huffelen states in her letter that the foundation for reforms has been created and that she is looking forward to their implementation, “even though this will not always be easy.”