Curacao is radically changing its online gambling licensing regime and establishing a new licensing body – with higher barriers to entry and the ability to cooperate with other regulators to combat illegal gambling – to replace the main licences.
In the past, the licensing regime was notable for its highly liberal system and low barriers to entry, with little control from operators.
Currently, only four companies are authorized by the government and hold master’s licenses. Each of these then offers its own sub-licenses on its own terms, meaning that private entities have control over the sub-licenses.
Thus, through a new bill that has been approved by the Curacao Council of Ministers, the existing regime will be drastically changed as part of an overhaul of the island’s gambling regulation.
A new system was being created, with licenses for both B2C operators and B2B providers issued by the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA), an independent body established by the government.
The CGA will act as a true licensing authority, with the power to revoke licenses if necessary, with a much greater ability to enforce existing laws.
The CGA can also enter into cooperation agreements with other regulatory authorities. Such agreements already exist in Europe as an attempt to prevent operators from targeting one jurisdiction from another, and they can be used to take action against those doing business in certain locally regulated markets.
However, there will be no specific rules that directly limit the ability of operators to target specific markets, this responsibility rests with the operator.
The licenses will come with taxes as Curacao’s government seeks to increase its direct revenue from the gambling sector.
According to a statement by Mario Galea, the former chief executive of the Malta Gaming Authority, gambling operators will pay a license processing fee of around €4,000, followed by a license fee of around €12,000 per year and a settlement of €250 per month per URL.
In the short term, all existing sublicensees will be “transferred” to the new system and will have the opportunity to convert the sublicense into a transitory license that will last 12 months. The government has already started registering all existing sub-licensees, only those who have registered can be converted to a transitional licence.
The new license also involved a series of additional checks. Enhanced anti-money laundering measures will be introduced and licensees will be required to have at least three staff employed in “key positions” working on the island.
Finance Minister Javier Silvania stated that there is a possibility that some operators will be forced to leave the Curacao market if they do not comply with the new licensing conditions.
However, although the crackdown on offshore operators has been strongest in Europe, this is not the main market for most Curaçao licensees.
The emergence of the new system was influenced by the Dutch government as well as the activity of the Curacao government, which emphasized changing the gambling regime.
In particular, the Dutch government is concerned about Curacao operators targeting regulated markets. Following media reports of gambling in Curacao in 2021, Sander Dekker, the Dutch minister for legal protection, promised parliament that there would be changes to the way business is conducted in Curacao.
After being approved by the government, the bill will then go into a consultation stage before heading to the legislature.
What to do now?
If you hold a Curacao online gambling sub-license, contact your corporate service provider or iGaming Express immediately to find out what steps to take and the deadline. If you are in the situation where Curacao is a selected option for your licensing needs, you can continue the process. iGaming Express offers complete solutions for Curacao, from general advice to company incorporation, licensing applications, payments, compliance and ongoing maintenance.
You are invited to schedule a consultation with us. We like to communicate with our customers, troubleshoot their problems, and offer solutions. We invite you to contact us today to discuss this with one of our agents. Let us help you take your business to the next level.