The Caribbean island of Curacao, that has long been a safe haven for offshore casino and sportsbook operators because of lenient licensing, is now uniting the four licenses into one that will be overseen by the newly established Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA).
In a significant move, the government of Curacao is set to introduce sweeping changes to its online gambling regulatory regime. The National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) will come into effect in the first quarter of 2024, marking a new era for the gambling industry in Curacao.
The CGA, an entirely new regulatory body, will be responsible for enforcing the new guidelines. This includes ensuring compliance with the regulations, imposing sanctions on non-compliant operators, introducing new policies, and issuing licenses. The CGA will have the authority to issue operator/casino licenses as well as supplier/Game licenses and to revoke a license, as a last resort, of any permittee that is not in compliance with the new policies.
Under the new scheme, companies seeking to obtain a new Curacao casino license will be required to pay an application fee of $5,000 and a yearly license fee of $15,000. Another source suggests that the license application fee will be €4,000, the annual license fee will be €12,000, and there will be a monthly regulatory fee of €250 per URL. Yet another source anticipates the fees to be around €49,385, which can be spread out through monthly installments of around €4,115.
In comparison, under the current system with four master licenses, the cost of obtaining a license varies depending on factors such as the size of the applicant’s business and the scope of the services it offers. The price for this gaming license ranges between $17,000 and $23,000. This fee covers a whole set of services besides the actual permit.
The new scheme appears to be more structured with clear application and annual fees, which could potentially bring in more revenue for Curacao. However, the exact financial impact will depend on the number of operators that apply for and maintain their licenses under the new regulations.
Historically, Curacao has had four master license holders: Cyberluck Curacao N.V. 1668/JAZ, Gaming Curacao 365/JAZ, Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) 5536/JAZ, and Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ2. These entities have been responsible for regulating and licensing iGaming operators on the Caribbean Island. All of them were known to almost never respond to any complaints and were a way for operators to have a license without having to adhere to any rules. Many cryptocurrency casinos opt for Curacao licenses. It is estimated that there are at least a thousand operators currently holding one of four Curacao master licenses.
With the introduction of the new legislation, the current system of Master License holders providing Sub-Licenses will end. The new regime will see all licenses being issued directly by the CGA. This means that the operators currently holding one of the four Curacao licenses will need to adapt to the new regulatory environment.
The new legislation is expected to enhance some areas and could add more requirements for operators to follow. For instance, at least three members of a casino operator’s key staff must be domiciled on the Caribbean island. This is a significant change from the current regulations and could impact the operations of many online casinos and sportsbooks.
Javier Silvania (pictured), the Minister of Finance for Curacao, announced the formation of the new regulatory body, the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA). He stated that the country aims for the new regulatory framework to “reverse” the country’s current reputation by demanding “enhanced due diligence” and introducing greater transparency regarding the origins of the operators’ funds.
The general sentiment among operators is one of uncertainty and concern. The new regulations, particularly the end of license sharing and the introduction of stricter compliance requirements, could significantly impact their operations.
The media has reported extensively on the upcoming changes, highlighting the potential impact on the online gambling landscape in Curacao. Some outlets have described the changes as marking the end of an era, with headlines such as “Is Gambling Paradise Coming to an End?”.
The new legislation will introduce stricter regulations and oversight of operators. The CGA will be the body responsible for enforcing the new legislation, including issuing recommendations, warnings, fines, requirements for correction, and decisions to revoke the license. This means that operators who fail to adhere to the rules could face significant fines or even lose their license.
The new rules for licensees under the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) in Curacao are expected to be more comprehensive and stringent than the existing regulations. Here are some key aspects of the new rules:
These new rules represent a significant shift in Curacao’s approach to online gambling regulation. They aim to provide a transparent and regulated environment for operators, ensuring compliance with international standards while safeguarding player interests and maintaining the integrity of the jurisdiction.
The upcoming changes to Curacao’s gambling laws mark a significant shift in the country’s approach to online gambling regulation. While the new rules may pose challenges for existing license holders, they also represent an opportunity for the industry to improve its reputation and credibility. As the new regulations come into effect, it will be interesting to see how operators adapt and what impact this will have on the global online gambling landscape.