Curaçao’s New Gambling Law Draft Expected in August

Curaçao's New Gambling Law Draft Expected in August

The new Curaçao Gambling Law is coming into effect by the end of 2022. The draft version of the gambling law is expected next month, including a completely new role for the island’s gaming authority that will go through a complete make-over.  

Last week, the project execution plans of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten for the new gambling law were officially presented to the House of Representatives. The project execution plans include a detailed outline of the upcoming steps for the 3rd quarter of 2022. The Caribbean country is now in the phase of taking the final steps towards the new gambling bill that should come into effect at the end of this year.

In 2020, the Netherlands and Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten drew up a country specific package to implement gambling law reforms per island. Project execution plans were subsequently set out on a quarterly basis. The plans are divided into various themes and have been presented under the theme Strengthening The Rule of Law. Curaçao is finally moving forward and will overhaul its licensing regime after international pressure.

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Curaçao’s Complete Makeover

The plan is to completely reform and modernise the way online games of chance and their operating companies are regulated in the country. The modernisation and reform includes new laws and regulations by appointing a single, independent supervisor. This takes away the commercial role the separate organisations that issue the licences currently have. By implementing a new regulating body, Curaçao wants to enjoy a comparable role like other authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), or the Dutch Kansspelatoriteit (KSA) that have full responsibility in their markets.

One of the most common misunderstandings is that there is only one Curaçao licence that is issued by a governmental institution. Nonetheless, there are four different commercial organisations that grant the licences after payments are made by the applicants, giving the licence a rather commercial status than that of a regulatory role. Instead, Curaçao wants to ensure that igaming concerns operating from the country comply with the gambling law. It also insists on taking measures to ensure that taxes are collected from the licensees.

The new gambling regime will replace the current setup that works with master licences, which has been criticised for an ongoing lack of scrutiny over online operators. At the moment, strategies in the field of enforcement, consumer protection, gambling addiction prevention, and money laundering are in the phase of being determined for subordinate regulations. A first draft version of the new gambling law will be handed over this month, after which the final draft must be completed on 1 August. A specific timeline of the legislative process from August to the end of this year is planned to be provided to its stakeholders shortly.

Centralised Gaming Authority

The first draft of the bill includes an overview of the consequences of a centralised, government backed Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA). On October 1, 2022, an online portal holding a register of all the active operators in Curaçao needs to be put into use. This way, the island wants to gain a clear insight into which gambling companies are active under a Curaçao gambling licence giving them more tools to track operators. According to industry experts, these are some of the last and most important steps of Curaçao to challenge. Last month, Curaçaoan Finance Minister Javier Silvania said he expects the new gambling law to come into force at the end of 2022.

Current Licensing Regime Under Pressure

The Caribbean island of Curaçao announced its plans to radically overhaul its notoriously liberal licensing regime after international pressure, notably from the Netherlands. As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao has come under increased pressure to tighten its licensing system since the Netherlands introduced a new regulated online gambling market in 2021. The Dutch government allegedly pressured Curaçao to restructure its lacking licensing regime in exchange for financial aid during the pandemic.

Having said that, there are still plenty of trustworthy online casinos that hold a licence from Curaçao and deliver a satisfactory service. A lot of operators that offer crypto tend to specifically apply for a licence in Curacao. Taxes as low as 2% are also reasons for gambling operators to offer their website from Curaçao. Under the new gambling law, licensees are required to meet new controls to continue to maintain their licences, including stricter money laundering measures and an interesting new requirement for a minimum of 3 employees in key positions to be located on the island. Fees for the licences are expected to be approximately € 4,000 (NZ$ 6,500) to apply and then € 12,000 (NZ$ 19,500) per year plus a monthly fee of € 250 (NZ$ 400) per URL held by the operator. These measures are expected to force some online operators to leave the jurisdiction.

Curaçao and Crypto

Different from most European authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) or the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Curaçao accepts its licensees to offer cryptocurrency on their websites. As the number of crypto casinos continues to grow exponentially, more and more operators have turned their attention to the Carribean island to be able to offer both online gambling products and allow crypto. Although the country’s four master licence holders have been widely criticised for accepting crypto, it has given them a significant advantage over competitors, explaining the massive influx of international operators.

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