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iGaming NEXT has prepared an overview of the upcoming changes that are part of Curacao’s gaming overhaul.

As part of Curaçao’s comprehensive revamp of its gaming regulations, operators seeking new licences will encounter a revised fee structure.

Starting from 1 September, operators can apply for a Curaçao online gambling licence, entailing an annual fee approximately €49,400 (more below).

Background

Curaçao announced its intention to overhaul its gambling regime last summer.

The Dutch-Caribbean island’s new gambling law is called the National Ordinance on Games of Chance, or LOK for short.

A new, independent supervisory body, the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA), will oversee the industry and issue licences for both B2C operators and B2B suppliers.

This presents a major change to the current system under which a few private entities hold master licences from the gaming control board and offer sub-licences to operators.

Currently, the LOK is undergoing evaluation by Curaçao’s Council of Advice, marking the concluding phase before its submission to parliament.

However, ahead of its formal enactment, the existing regulatory body, the Gaming Control Board (GCB), will start issuing new licences under the existing law, with a plan to transfer these licences into the new regulatory framework once it is enacted.

Registration portal

From 1 September, operators can apply for a new licence through a dedicated registration portal.

Additionally, sub-licence holders currently operating under an existing master licence are also required to complete their registration through this portal.

Current sub-licence holders that do not wish to apply for a licence under the LOK are not required to apply.

The existing sub-licences are valid for another six months after the new law goes into effect, but can be extended for another six months if the sub-licence holder applies for a new licence.

The portal will provide operators with access to all necessary application forms and comprehensive information about the registration requirements.

Only legal entities incorporated under the laws of Curaçao with registered office in Curaçao can apply.

“I must emphasise that the developments on the 1st September do not entail any changes to the existing legislation or permissions for existing licence holders,” said finance minister Javier Silvania.

“The Ministry of Finance and the Gaming Control Board will not prohibit ongoing activities of current licence holders but will open up the opportunity for operators to have a licence directly from the authority,” he affirmed in a recent Facebook post.

Application documentation

The application process entails the completion of three forms along with the submission of relevant supporting documents.

These forms encompass the online gaming application, the business information form and the personal history disclosure form.

Applicants will be required to furnish details about their proposed business operations, along with information about the key individuals involved and specific particulars of the Curaçao company.

The due diligence process necessitates the provision of supporting documentation.

Any ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) with 10% or more of the business ownership will have to provide fully verifiable identity information, including source of wealth and source of funds.

Audited policies and procedures covering AML, information security, responsible gaming policy, player account and fund management, as well as player account suspension and closure need to be in place during the pre-licensing phase and need to be submitted within six months of granting the licence.

Operators also need to submit agreements with platform providers.

Within two months of receiving a complete licence application, the GCB has to determine whether a licence would be granted or not.

The GCB retains the authority to revoke a licence due to non-compliance and can impose conditions or restrictions on a licence to enhance the safety, reliability, and transparency of the gaming offerings.

Licence fees

Obtaining a Curaçao online gambling licence involves an annual fee of 96,000 guilders (€49,385). These costs can be spread out through monthly instalments of 8,000 guilders (€4,115).

The licence granted by the GCB in Curaçao is valid for just one year, necessitating renewal with the same associated costs.

Gambling companies have the flexibility to register multiple domains. For each additional domain, a licence holder is required to pay an annual fee of 500 guilders (€257). There’s a maximum cap on the number of extra domains a licensee can register, set at 200.

Moreover, in Curaçao, additional charges arise when a new shareholder or UBO holding at least 10% of shares is registered.

For this process, the permit holder incurs a one-time payment of 500 guilders.

Objection and appeal process

In the event a licence application is denied, the applicant has two options for recourse.

Within six weeks of the decision, they can either raise an objection with the Minister/GCB or file an appeal with the court.

Additional requirements

Equipment and application software must undergo testing by an independent inspection body approved by the GCB.

Gambling operators holding a Curaçao licence are prohibited from accepting players from Curaçao, minors, gambling company employees, and individuals who have self-excluded.

Granting credit to players, such as allowing a negative account balance, is strictly prohibited.

Licence holders are required to submit their annual financial reports to the supervisory authority.

Additionally, a monthly change report must be submitted detailing any modifications to game systems, terms and conditions, and internal procedures.

In the event of incidents, permit holders are obligated to report them to the supervisory authority within 24 hours.

Complaints must be addressed promptly, with resolution taking place within a maximum of eight weeks.

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