Curaçao

Curaçao
CURAÇAO IS A LONG-STANDING PLAYER IN THE ONLINE GAMBLING INDUSTRY AND ONE OF THE OLDEST AND MOST POPULAR iGAMING LICENSING LOCATIONS IN THE WORLD

Situated in the southern Caribbean Sea, close to the Venezuelan coast, Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Online gaming was formally legalised in 1993 when the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard entered into force.

As a direct result of the second Mutual Evaluation Report of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force in 1998 the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) was incorporated on April 19, 1999 and tasked with the specific purpose of becoming the regulator for the entire gaming industry operating in and from Curaçao.

On the 18th of December, 2018, the Minister of Finance publicly announced the Government’s intent to task the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) with the regulation of the online gaming sector. 

On February 15, 2019, the GCB was appointed the AML/CFT supervisor for all gaming sectors operating in and from Curaçao, which includes the online gaming sector.

Since March 2020, the GCB is charged with the licensing for and the supervision of the Curaçao online gaming sector on behalf of the Minister of Finance. 

Similar to other regulatory bodies, the Gaming Control Board strives to protect public interests and ensure the stability of the Curaçao gaming industry, by making sure that all gaming is conducted responsibly and in a transparent manner, keeping it free from criminal and corrupt elements.

With the impending finalisation of the legislative process to appoint a unified gaming regulator for Curaçao the GCB will obtain the necessary enforcement powers to enforce compliance with laws and regulations.

Based on the new legislation, the GCB will be converted into the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA), a new independent licensing and supervisory authority for all games of chance.

LICENCE OVERVIEW
CURAÇAO IS IDEAL FOR THOSE SEEKING TO AVOID LENGTHY WAITING PERIODS, COMPLEX PROCEDURES, AND TIME-CONSUMING TASKS ASSOCIATED WITH OTHER JURISDICTIONS.
SUMMARY & KEY INFORMATION
Type:Online gaming licence.
Regulator:GCB
Application Cost:Approx. €25,000
Processing Time:Approx. 4 - 6 weeks
Coverage:Casino games, sports betting, lotteries, poker and bingo
Restricted Countries:Limited restrictions (see FAQs)
Revenue Taxation:Zero tax on foreign-sourced income.
Advantages:Cost-effective, efficient setup, flexibility for future diversification.
Ideal For:New businesses seeking a stress-free and budget-friendly licence.
Unique Feature:Single licence covers diverse gaming activities.
Operator Benefits:International recognition, favourable tax conditions, operational flexibility.
LICENCE TYPES
THE GOVERNMENT NOW ISSUES ONLY ONE TYPE OF LICENCE TO REGULATE ALL GAMING ACTIVITIES, UNDER SEPARATE B2C AND B2B CATEGORIES.

The LOK gaming licence is set to replace the current master and sub-license system, where only four master licence holders were authorised to issue sub-licenses to operators and replace it with permits issued directly by the government with the introduction of B2C and B2B categories:

  • B2C licence for operators (bookmaker, casino)
  • B2B licence for game providers, white label platform providers, and payment solution providers.

With the 2023 update, master licence holders can’t issue new sub-licenses and are only allowed to renew the existing ones.

Upon the enactment of the LOK, master licence holders will automatically transition to the new regulatory regime, provided they comply with the specified policies and regulations. 

Sub-licensees who wish to continue operating under the new framework will have a three-month transition period to apply for a licence under the LOK.

During the application and processing period, sub-licensees can continue their operations as usual for up to nine months after the LOK is implemented. 

However, operators who do not transition to the new licensing regime must cease operations once their relevant master licence expires.

Administrative & Licence Fees

On the 11th December 2023, Curaçao’s minister of finance Javier Silvania confirmed the updated fees that will be charged for licences under the current (NOOGH) and incoming (LOK) legislations.

Fees under the current legislation – NOOGH

Under the current legislation, licences are considered operating licences only, with no separate B2C and B2B categorisation.

Single operating license
Application Fee€0
Annual Licence Fee€18,500
Monthly Fee€3,600
Domains Included in the licenceUp to 40
Additional Fee for any additional domain above 40, €250
Total approximate annual licence fee €61,700 + €250 per annum per domain, with no upper limits as to the number of domains.
Fees under the lok

Under the incoming LOK draft, which is subject to parliamentary approval, all entities must hold a B2C licence, without exceptions. This includes companies that interact directly with players, control player funds and/or player data as well as companies (such as platforms) who meaningfully facilitate the B2C operations vis-à-vis player funds and player data.

B2C
Licence Application Fee€4,600 plus one-off due diligence fees between €125 and €250 per person, depending on their role
Annual Fee€24,600, payable upon licence issuance
Monthly Fee€2,050 with a fee of €250 per annum and per domain
Total Approximate Annual Licence Fee €49,200 + €250 per annum per domain, with no upper limits as to the number of domains

Operators who come under the LOK as part of a direct licence under the current law will not have to pay the annual fee of €24,600 upon licence issuance. Rather, the sum will be due on the anniversary of their licence issuance, at which point the monthly fee will be reduced from €3,600 to €2,000 approximately and the per domain fee will come due.

B2B
Licence Application Fee €4,600
One-off Due Diligence FeesBetween €125 and €250 per person, depending on their role
Annual Fee€24,600 with no monthly or per domain fees

Other associated costs can include the incorporation of a local company in Curaçao, the first year’s local representative fees, legal office fees, domiciliation and administration fees as well local ISP services for compliance backups.

BENEFITS
FAVOURABLE TAX LAWS, COMFORTABLE LEGISLATION AND A STRAIGHTFORWARD APPLICATION PROCESS

Single Licence

The Curaçao licence covers a broad spectrum of gaming activities under a single licence (sports betting, RNG games, live casino, lottery, and more) which eliminates the need for multiple licences and provides flexibility for future diversification.

Time-Efficient

The waiting period is approximately 4 weeks, ensuring timely processing and a quick time-to-market for operators.

Cost-Effective

The application process is economical, making it a budget-friendly option when compared to a number of other jurisdictions.

Limited Geographical restrictions

While there are some restricted countries, the list is relatively short, and operators with a Curaçao gaming licence can operate in over 120 countries. 

Zero Revenue Tax

Curaçao does not impose a tax on revenue earned from gaming activities, provided that all income is foreign-sourced. This unique zero-tax rule aligns with international regulations and taxation practices, offering operators a favourable financial environment.

Simple Set-up

Setting up a business in Curaçao is not complex, allowing businesses to quickly establish themselves in the gaming industry.

Crypto-friendly

There are no restrictions on cryptocurrency with a Curaçao licence, allowing casino operators to avoid fees incurred by credit card transactions.

REQUIREMENTS
TO OBTAIN A LICENCE UNDER THE NEW REGULATIONS, BUSINESSES WILL HAVE TO REGISTER A COMPANY IN CURAÇAO AND MEET RIGOROUS CRITERIA SET BY THE GCB, PROVING THEIR FINANCIAL STABILITY, INTEGRITY, AND OVERALL COMPETENCE.

During the application process, the Gaming Control Board (GCB) of Curaçao primarily focuses on the integrity of the applicant, the financial integrity of the organisation and the accessibility of the gaming channels from the perspective of the players:

Within 6 months of being granted a licence, operators must submit critical policies and procedures to the GCB , audited by a GCB approved auditor as per the GCB’s guidelines.

Additionally, they need to have their hardware and software security checked by a third party with GCB approval.

Legal Entity

Applicants must be legally established and recognized entities, requiring the registration of a company in Curaçao and the appointment of a local director and representative. There are no particular shareholder requirements.

Due Diligence

Fit-and-proper test for applicants, beneficial owners, stakeholders, directors, managing directors, and compliance officers. Audit of the financial integrity of the organisation and source of funds.

AML/CFT

Appointment of an internal compliance officer, implementation of internal AML/CFT processes and procedures in line with applicable legislation; compliance subject to regular audits.

Technical Infrastructure

The establishment of secure hosting and infrastructure locally, with domain ownership and the presence of at least one physical server in the jurisdiction. 

Technical Certifications

Within 6 months, provision of an RNG (Random number generator) certificate by an independent testing laboratory with GCB approval. Hardware and third party software must also be certified. 

Responsible Gaming

Compliance with responsible gaming rules, including the provision of a complete and understandable description of gaming products, requirements as to placement of the Rules on the website and the development and implementation of self-exclusion mechanisms. 

Security standards

Licensees must consistently adhere to information security standards and are obligated to submit audited security policies to the GCB within six months of obtaining a licence.

These policies must align with the GCB’s specifications, and licensees must engage an auditor approved by the GCB for this purpose.

Procedures and Policies

Licensees are required to uphold player account policies and furnish audited versions of these policies to the GCB as requested and within six months of obtaining a licence.

Upon request from the GCB and within the same timeframe, payment transaction policies must be audited and submitted to the GCB.

OUR SERVICES
HOW WE CAN ASSIST

IGA offers comprehensive support for the licensing process. 

Our services include application assistance, due diligence checks, company formation, appointment of a local director, AML/CFT compliance, ensuring operational transparency, demonstrating financial stability, implementing data security measures, documenting operational policies, ensuring technical infrastructure compliance, keeping abreast of regulatory directives and providing strategic consultation and guidance. 

Contact us for further information on how we can assist you.

FAQS
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The time required for the licensing process in Curaçao can vary depending on factors such as the thoroughness of the application, the intricacy of the gambling operation and the workload of the licensing authority. The average is around 2 months and can be as little as 3-4 weeks if the required documentation is comprehensive and submitted in a timely manner.

To initiate the application for a gambling licence in Curaçao, it is mandatory for the applicant to possess a bank account that serves as the designated platform for executing financial transactions associated with gambling activities.

Non-residents are allowed to own a gambling company in Curaçao, with no limitations imposed on the nationality or residency of the company’s owners.

A Curaçao-based gambling company is permitted to have directors who are not local residents, provided that there is more than one director. In accordance with the jurisdiction’s regulations, at least one director must be a resident of Curacao.

Curaçao does not have a specific minimum authorised capital requirement for gambling licence applicants. However, having sufficient capital to carry out intended gambling operations is essential to meet the licensing criteria.

The effective tax rate is still to be clarified as the e-zones taxation system no longer exists. Taxation is currently envisaged to be 0% on foreign-sourced income with submission on a monthly basis.

The restrictions fall into 4 main categories:

Prohibitions for citizens regardless of location:

Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Cambodia, North Korea, Japan, Singapore, Cyprus, and Qatar, completely prohibit online gambling for their citizens, irrespective of where the e-gaming operation is based.

Prohibited access to online gaming websites:

Numerous other countries, including Georgia, Sri Lanka, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, the UK, USA, and Panama forbid access from their territories to foreign online gaming websites to safeguard their local gaming operators.

Prohibitions limited to particular jurisdictions:

In certain countries, such as Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Norway, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Dominica, and the Dominican Republic, prohibitions apply only within their own jurisdictions. However, citizens from these countries face no restrictions engaging with a Curaçao-based online gaming operator.

Curaçao’s restrictions and treaty-imposed limits:

Curaçao itself prohibits access to its citizens, and specific countries with treaties impose restrictions on online gambling within Curaçao. These countries include the USA, the Netherlands, France, Dutch West Indies, and Australia.

The licence will have general conditions applicable to all licence holders, which can be located here. Additionally, specific conditions may be appended to the licence for individual holders based on particular circumstances.

Transferring the licence or entering into an agreement enabling its use by anyone other than the licensee is strictly prohibited.

This pertains to the integrity assessment of the applicant, its ultimate beneficial owners, holders of a qualifying interest, statutory directors, managing directors, and compliance officers.

WHY CHOOSE IGA GROUP

At IGA Group, we are committed to providing the best possible service to our clients by using our wealth of experience and industry knowledge to maximise the potential of their business. We have years of experience in the gaming sector, through previous employment with gaming companies, through software companies providing technical solutions and through various consultancy engagements at the strategic, operational and regulatory levels.

Our expertise covers the whole spectrum of operator activities, including legal, finance, operations, online gaming regulation, compliance, AML, technical , licensing, corporate, SEO, support, company formation, mergers & acquisitions and more…