top of page
Casino Games

iGaming News

ibd Gaming Source The Latest And Hottest iGaming News

Changes to the Curacao gambling regime and what it means for you - by Fast Offshore

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

The Curacao government has pushed back the deadline for the rollout of its new online gambling licensing regime which was set to overhaul existing rules in a bid to combat financial crime and industry abuses.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dutch government told Curacao that in order to benefit from financial assistance to weather the storm, they must undertake a number of key reforms and reviews. This included changes to online gambling rules, which have long been considered some of the most accessible and relaxed in the world.

In 1996, Curacao started offering online gambling licenses, being among one of the first in the world to do so. Since then, it has become a leading jurisdiction for gambling operators due to a simple application process, low costs and fees, and a hands-off approach to supervision.

Under the old regime, Master Licenses were granted to private entities who then had the ability to offer sub-licenses to other operators. Each entity retained responsibility for oversight and adherence to the rules, as well as all ongoing maintenance and supervision. While it worked well and was a great option for startups, there were concerns it was too lax, leaving the door open for abuse by shady operators.

Amid a global tightening of iGaming rules and a crackdown on money laundering and other financial crimes, the Dutch government demanded change.

Soon enough, Curacao announced it would roll out a new regime, bringing the sector well and truly back under its own remit.

This included establishing the Curacao Gaming Authority to oversee all iGaming activity and the direct issuance of B2C licenses and B2B licenses, fees starting at EUR 4000 for an application, EUR 12,000 annually once approved, and EUR 250 a month for each URL. It also requires at least three local employees to be appointed to key positions and remains on the island and a raft of enhanced monitoring and anti-money laundering controls.

As for those with existing licenses, they would have the opportunity to convert it into a new license over the course of 12 months. During that time, they would be able to either align their operations with the new framework or transition operations to another licensing regime. The Curacao government has already started transitioning existing license holders to the new regime, while some have sought to license elsewhere, such as Costa Rica or Kahnawake.

But things are not going entirely to plan. At the end of 2022, the government reported the new gambling bill would be ready for parliament in February 2023. However, this timeline is now delayed as consultations with key stakeholders are taking longer than expected. The delay was communicated, and then at the start of 2023, the government confirmed the deadline of February would be moved, but it did not give an indication of any new date.

The government said simply that the relevant departments are "still awaiting an adjusted schedule from the Curacao Ministry of Finance.” It continues that a new schedule with steps leading up to the entry into force of the law is currently under discussion and will also be shared with the Netherlands.

"In accordance with an agreement between the minister of finance of Curaçao and the minister of the legal protection of the Netherlands, official consultations will take place in January about the progress of the [gaming bill]," it said.

So where does this leave those considering a Curacao license or already have one under the old system?

Good question. The authorities are working with existing license holders to help them adjust to the new system. But as for new licensees, the situation is a bit more uncertain. During this period of transition, we are working with new applicants to meet the standards laid down under the new regime.

While this could, of course, be subject to change, depending on the actions of stakeholders and parliament in Curacao, it is unlikely that the core specifics will alter too much. In addition, we have also helped various others seek licensing options elsewhere, even on an interim basis.

For example, Costa Rica does not require a license for operators to set up shop locally, but they are restricted to crypto-only payments. This can, however, be a valid temporary solution for some, who will then move on to Curacao and integrate fiat payments at a later stage. Some have also opted for a Kahnawake license which, while having tougher requirements, is one of the most respected around.

If you are an existing Curacao online gambling license holder, you need to contact your corporate service provider or Fast Offshore immediately to see what steps you need to take and by when.

Fast Offshore has been working in Curacao for decades and is able to help and guide you through the process, even during this transitional moment. From general advice to filing licensing applications, company incorporation, payments, compliance, and ongoing maintenance, we offer a full portfolio of services for your gaming needs.

To find out more about Curacao as an online gambling jurisdiction now and more about what lies ahead, simply contact a member of our team here.

More Recent News

bottom of page