CURAÇAO REVAMPS GAMBLING LICENSING SYSTEM TO MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
Curaçao, a renowned licensing hub for online gambling, is set to implement the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), a reform of its licensing regime for foreign operators. The reform comes as a result of the Netherlands government’s request for Curaçao to revamp its gambling regulations in exchange for financial relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the current law, operators must obtain a sub-license from one of the four master license holders to gain approval. However, the government intends to phase out this system in favor of a new licensing approach. While the legislation is yet to be submitted to parliament, the regulators will start issuing new licenses with enhanced obligations from September 1st.
To ensure continuity, all master licenses will be extended for an additional year, and the transition process will not disrupt the operations of current licensees. The ministry aims to facilitate uninterrupted continuity for all sub-license holders.
Once the LOK comes into force, all sub-licensees will have a 90-day deadline to apply for a new license, irrespective of the remaining term of the master license. During the application process, the old regulations will apply for up to nine months after the LOK’s implementation. Operators who choose not to move to the new licensing regime can continue conducting business until their relevant master license expires.
From September 1st, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) will directly issue licenses to operators, which will automatically convert to licenses granted under the LOK. These licenses will be issued under current legislation and will not grant the right to offer sub-licenses. Additionally, the new licenses will include provisions addressing anti-money laundering and responsible gambling obligations.
Existing master license holders will still be allowed to issue sub-licenses in accordance with current legislation. The processing of sub-license applications that are already in progress or paused will depend on the licensees themselves.
According to Sixiènne Jansen, Legal Advisor to the Curaçao Ministry of Finance, there have been no changes to the legislation or permissions since the minister announced the drafting of the new legislation in November. The only change that will occur on September 1st is the issuance of new licenses.
Operators will have the choice of applying for licenses through the GCB board or a master licensee. However, the upcoming implementation of the LOK means that the former category of licenses will not require resubmission.
The application process for new licenses after September 1st will be similar to the previous process. Operators will need to complete three forms: an online gaming application, a personal declaration identifying key individuals in the business, and corporate disclosures. These forms will ensure compliance with international standards, covering aspects such as player protection, anti-money laundering procedures, responsible gaming, and robust security setups.
Further updates on the fee structure of the new licensing regime will be provided by the ministry in September.