WILLEMSTAD – Curaçao seems to (finally) be working on reforming the online gambling sector. This was stated in a letter by Undersecretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops.
To limit the consequences of the Covid19 pandemic, Curaçao receives financial support from the Netherlands. Since the second tranche in May 2020, this support is no longer without obligation.
Curaçao must meet a number of conditions in exchange for support from the Netherlands. These conditions are laid down by the Netherlands and Curaçao in the “Landspakket” (Country Package).
Two agreements in this “Country Package” are of interest those who are interested in online casinos. These can be found under H.2 and H.19 in the list of reforms and measures.
Several thousand online casinos operate from Curaçao. Most of them do not have the best reputation. Exceptions, such as Omni Slots and Lucky Days, are rare.
Curaçao must have a plan ready by March 1, 2021 in which the laws and regulations allow an independent regulator to supervise the online gambling sector. Permits must be issued by this supervisor. If licensees do not comply with the rules, the supervisor must withdraw the license.
This is not happening now. There are several “master licensees” on Curaçao. These are private telecom companies. Now there are five: Antillephone N.V., Cyberluck, Curaçao Interactive Licensing, Gaming Services Provider and The Elite Turf Club. Although some of these master licensees try to give the impression with their name and logo that they are an official regulator, that is not the case.
They grant so-called “sub-licenses” to online casinos and online bookmakers. In practice, it is mainly commercial motives that prevail in the granting of these permits and the “supervision”. Among other things, this means that permits are rarely revoked. This has ensured that many thousands of gambling sites are active from Curaçao.
Soon these sub-licensees will also have to pay to the government. Now they do that to the “master licensees”.
Gaming sites must respect local laws
By September 1, 2021, Curaçao must have a plan that provides that casinos operating out of Curaçao comply with the legislation in countries where they operate. And that means quite a bit.
Now Curaçao is especially popular with online casinos that do not abide by the rules in the countries where they operate.
That will no longer be allowed. This means, for example, that casinos with a license from the Gaming Control Board may no longer accept players from the Netherlands if they do not have a license from the Gaming Authority.
De facto, this means that online casinos with a license in Curaçao can only accept players from Curaçao, supplemented by a few countries that accept the license from Curaçao.
This means that the sales market is declining from billions of world residents to barely the 160 thousand residents of Curaçao. The question then remains how profitable running a gambling site from Curaçao will be.
Income for Curaçao
The third obligation is that Curaçao must work on collecting gambling tax, corporate tax and license fees.
Currently, barely 2 percent of the profit that gambling companies make on Curaçao goes to the treasury. This 2 percent is the tax rate in the so-called e-zone on Curaçao. Many sub-licensees hardly pay any tax because they operate via Cyprus, for example.
Fees for the permits are collected by the master licensees.
The big question is of course how big the size of the gambling sector on Curaçao will be if there is an independent regulator, stricter rules are introduced, gambling sites can lose their license and gambling sites with a Curaçao license must comply with local legislation of the countries where they operate.