Curacao was one of the first countries to allow gambling over the Internet. In 1993, the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard came into force, legalizing most online games of chance. Just a few years later, in 1996, Curacao began issuing gambling licenses. Today, many international companies offering online gambling services choose Curacao for their offshore gambling business.
What changes will Curacao’s gambling regulation see in 2023?
At the moment, Curacao is on the verge of adopting a new legislation on the gambling industry’s regulation. According to reports, the new bill, which may come into force in Q2 2023, will completely reform the country’s licensing system.
One of the main changes is the establishment of a new independent regulatory body, the Curacao Gaming Authority. It will replace the existing Curacao Gaming Control Board.
The new authority will issue both B2B and B2C licenses, while the current system with master and sub-licenses will be abolished. B2B and B2C licenses will initially be granted to new gambling operators who did not have a permit before. On the other hand, companies with a valid license will be allowed to operate under the previous rules for an 18-month transition period, during which they will have to submit the necessary documents in order to obtain a new license.
Permissions will come with fees, allowing the government to increase its revenue from the gambling industry. According to Mario Galea, who served as CEO of Malta Gambling Authority, B2C license applicants will pay the following fees:
- A license application fee of €4,000;
- An annual license fee of €12,000;
- A monthly regulatory fee of €250 per URL.
In the short term, all existing sublicensees will be transferred to the new system. Their licenses will be converted into transitional licenses with a 12-month validity.
An important point is that only those who have registered will be eligible for a transitional license. The registration is already open.
There will be additional controls on operators. Besides implementing enhanced anti-money laundering measures, licensees will also be required to have at least three key employees working on the island.
What else will the new legislation change?
Curacao’s gambling laws have been undergoing modernization since 2021. The local government aims to bring the current legislation up to international standards. A regulatory restructuring will help improve player protection, enhance game security, and boost the reputation of the jurisdiction.
These are the key changes the new system will bring:
- Fair and transparent gambling experience. New standards of fairness will be implemented for games offered by Curacao-licensed casinos. They are designed to ensure that all outcomes are completely random. There will be new measures in place to certify games; besides, games will be regularly audited for compliance with the standards.
- Player protection. The new system will also include better protection for vulnerable and susceptible players. Operators who seek to obtain a Curacao license must adhere to responsible gaming policies, have an effective dispute resolution mechanism and a complaints-handling system.
- Combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The current procedures will be brought in line with international standards. In particular, gambling operators will be required to register and comply with goAML principles.
- Mandatory local presence. Curacao license holders must have a local presence, which means opening a physical office in the country. Moreover, within 2 years from obtaining a license, companies will be required to have local residents as key employees.
- New license cost. All money from license fees will go directly to the state budget. The new legislation will also reform the current gambling taxation system. The exact figures will be known after the official publication of the law, as not all of its provisions are available to the public at this moment.
- Strengthening oversight of operators. The Curacao Gaming Authority will become the regulatory body overseeing the compliance with the new laws. It will be responsible for issuing recommendations, warnings, fines, requirements for correction, and decisions to revoke licenses.
Furthermore, the government of Curacao intends to expand the number of payment methods supported by online casinos with a new license. Negotiations with major banks and payment operators are already underway.