Curaçao will issue new licences directly to gambling operators starting on September 1, according to the country’s Minister of Finance, who said the long-awaited regulatory changes are “unavoidable”.
Speaking at iGaming NEXT in Malta today (June 22), Javier Silvania said the country will also establish a new regulator called the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA).
The CGA will have the power to issue licences, monitor operators and “take action” against them.
The existing Gaming Control Board, which the minister says “lacks tools and permissions for effective oversight” will commence the issuing of the new licences until the new regulator is operational.
The National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK) has now been fully drafted and has completed its consultation process.
LOK was presented to the Council of Advice at the start of June, which is its final stage before it is brought to Parliament.
Silvania said the current law is “inadequate in addressing the technological advancements and operational complexities of today”.
In particular, the minister highlighted concerns around the current anti-money laundering measures in place, as well as player protection and fraud prevention.
Silvania promised that the new law will “reverse” the international sentiment towards Curaçao by applying “more due diligence”, and requiring transparency over the source of funds flowing into the country.
The island nation has been accused of harbouring a large and opaque cohort of operators that do business outside and in defiance of numerous regulated jurisdictions.
In May, Australian authorities sent a letter to the ministry detailing numerous alleged infractions of local gambling laws by companies claiming to be based in Curaçao, and imploring officials not to allow those firms to be licensed under the new regime.
On Thursday, the minister warned that “troubling corporate behaviours” observed on the island over the past month, even though the new legislation looms, will not be tolerated.
However, not many additional details about licence conditions or application requirements were divulged by the minister.
On February 7, 2023, at the ICE conference in London, the minister promised to have online gambling legislation in place by the end of June 2023.
He explained in London that the new system will end the current master-licensing model, which sees only five companies holding full licences and an enormous number piggybacking on their authorisation.
In February, he stated that “the game is over” for Curaçao’s master licence holders and their unknown number of sub-licensees.
Curaçao-linked operators currently account for almost 40 percent of those listed on a number of European offshore gambling blocklists.
New licence holders will also be required to up their physical presence on the Caribbean island.
Companies will need to employ at least one local nominated person, rising to a minimum of three people within five years.
Companies must also buy or lease a business space and equip it with facilities “for the sole purpose of carrying out the business activities under their gaming licence”.