Curaçao Pledges Cooperation On Australian Complaints, Documents Say

August 7, 2023
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​​​​​​​Australia’s media regulator has received a pledge of cooperation, in response to pressure on the Curaçao government to crack down on online gambling operators it says are illegally targeting the country.

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Australia’s media regulator has received a pledge of cooperation, in response to pressure on the Curaçao government to crack down on online gambling operators it says are illegally targeting the country.

Following a May letter of complaint, officials of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) communicated with Curaçao officials on June 8 about the 90-plus operators registered in the Caribbean nation and targeting Australia, according to the FOI request initially filed by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Curaçao is promising to cooperate with Australian officials, according to the documents.

The island nation is preparing online gambling licensing reform, with plans to allow the Gaming Control Board to offer licences from September 1, with eventual plans to create a new regulator, the Curaçao Gaming Authority.

The overhaul would bring an end to the current opaque system of master and sub-licensees that sees thousands of websites operating on the island without oversight.

Operators wishing to transition to the new regime will have three months in which to apply for a new licence once reforms kick in.

In a letter posted by Curaçao’s finance ministry in May, Australian officials asked Curaçao to consider legal infringements in other countries when assessing whether to grant a licence to applicants.

In the June meeting, “[Curaçao’s gambling authority representatives] confirmed that contraventions by operators in other jurisdictions (such as Australia) would be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a licensee under the new regime,” according to notes released in the FOI request.

“It will be mandatory for licensees to have in place dispute resolution mechanisms in place for affected customers, such as Australians,” the ACMA notes said.

“We are open for collaboration with you,” wrote a Curaçao Gaming Control Board official whose name was redacted in the FOI filing. “We take these breaches very seriously and will do all that’s possible to stop them.”

Australian officials noted that Curaçao officials promised to pass the names of alleged violators to the master licence holders involved.

An ACMA spokesperson said the agency expects to continue its discussions with Curaçao regulators.

At the end of July, the ACMA asked Australian internet service providers to block five more unlicensed offshore gambling sites, at least four with Curaçao connections.

Reef Reels and Royal Reels say they are based in Costa Rica and carry a Curaçao licence.

Ricky Casino claims a Curaçao licence and markets itself online as an “accessible gambling portal for Aussies in 2023”.

Slots Gallery is blocked in the UK, but affiliates say it is a cryptocurrency casino which claims to have a Curaçao licence.

The ACMA said it has blocked 803 websites since 2019, and about 200 have pulled out since it launched enforcement.

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