Curaçao Circulates Proposal To List Online Gambling Licensees

December 13, 2021
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​​​​​​​The Curaçao government is circulating a proposal that would create an official registry of online gambling licensees on the Caribbean island, in what it calls the first step toward developing a long awaited re-regulation.

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The Curaçao government is circulating a proposal that would create an official registry of online gambling licensees on the Caribbean island, in what it calls the first step toward developing a long awaited re-regulation.

The Ministry of Finance wants to author a registry of existing licensees under the current master licensee-sublicensee system and their websites, with the goal of setting up a new legal framework that would take effect in the second quarter of 2022.

“The government of Curaçao is in the process of modernising its gambling legislation to bring it in line with international standards and to adopt a responsible gaming policy that spans all gaming activities that are and will be licensed in the jurisdiction,” wrote finance minister Javier Silvania.

The measure follows years of complaints that claim Curaçao licensees flout regulations in other countries, while hundreds of the island’s licensees feature on regulator blacklists in Europe and Australia.

The Dutch government has been pressuring Curaçao to reform its gambling legislation to set up an independent regulator, collect taxes and ensure that Curaçao licensees follow the law in other countries, but an earlier attempt at proposed legislation was heavily criticised by a local think tank.

In the latest proposal, the Curaçao ministry said it is considering the possibility of temporarily exempting current licensees so they do not need to immediately apply for a licence under the new system.

“It is one of the government’s priorities to safeguard the current business carried out by these parties, as far as they are being operated legally. The government would like to see their continued operations from Curacao in the future,” the ministry said.

“At the same time, the government must ensure that the possible exemption being granted will not be abused. It is also for this reason that the registration through the online portal will be introduced.”

Details of the new proposal will be published “shortly”, the ministry said.

“Kindly note that this intention has not yet been approved and formalised, and that this is thus subject to parliamentary approval,” the ministry said.

The current legislation, the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard, dates to 1993, the dawn of the World Wide Web.

One Curaçao gambling executive said the document should be considered “step one” toward reform, and that the government seems to be contemplating a short transitional period to allow the new regulator to process applications.

“During transition, the privatised regulation — which is much firmer than outsiders think — will continue to exist,” the executive said.

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