Curaçao’s Gaming Control Board will begin accepting online gambling licence applications on November 15, with the promise that applications will “seamlessly” transition from the current regime to a new gambling law planned for next year.
Online gambling applications can be uploaded from the 15th for use by both current sub-licensees and new applications, an advisor to Curaçao’s finance minister said.
The move comes as Curaçao prepares a planned reform bill for next year, a bill which is on track for the first quarter of next year, said advisor Aideen Shortt.
The bill is meant to phase out the controversial master licensee system, with the government having little control over so-called sub-licensees.
The current system’s woes are illustrated by the release this week of Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs list of 2023 online gambling fines, in which 14 of 15 “very serious” infractions involved companies based in Curaçao, or claiming its licences.
Most of those violators have been assessed fines of €5m each, or the majority of the €71.4m assessed by the Spanish regulator in the first half of this year.
Current operators in Curaçao act without oversight from the government, with the four master licence holders not required to inform the existing regulator which, or even how many, sub-licensees they contract with.
From November 15, the Gaming Control Board begins accepting online gambling licence applications under the current law.
The government is asking the sub-licensees to register as part of an intent to acquire a Curaçao gambling licence under existing or future Curaçao law.
A preliminary estimate that there are around 600 sub-licensees operating 8,000 websites may be an under-estimate, as 100 companies registered in the first week after the portal opened November 1, Shortt said.
Individual companies often run several different brands on the international gambling market.
After the new law is passed, master licences are good for another nine months, and sub-licensees that have not already started an application under the current law must start one within three months, she said.
Annual fees under the current legislation would be 120,000 Netherlands Antillean guilders, or about $67,000, with fees not set yet for the proposed legislation.
Revenue is not currently taxed, and that is not expected to change under proposed legislation.