14/07/2023: Latest update on Curaçao license in new article via link
During the ICE conference in London, from February 7-9, our team held talks with Gaming Curacao, one of the 4 holders of the Master License, as well as with the Ministry of Finance of Curacao about future regulatory changes regarding the most popular gambling license on the market.
Information about upcoming changes has been regularly presented in the media over the past years, due to the global trend of tightening regulation and the particular pressure of the Netherlands on Curacao.
During the conference, the Ministry of Finance of Curaçao presented its plan for key changes to the license, and we have compiled basic information and facts that current and new operators should be aware of.
Today, Curaçao licenses are issued by Master license holders. Master license holders are private companies that were granted the right to conduct gambling activities by the government of Curacao in the late 90s. There were only 4 such companies on the market. All operators were operating under a sub-license obtained from one of the owners of the Master License.
New changes anticipate the elimination of this system. All licenses will be issued directly by the new state regulator – Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA). Master licenses and sublicenses will cease to exist.
There will be a transition period for current sublicense holders, which we will discuss below.
Also, a new type of license will be introduced for B2B vendors (for the first two years having a license for them will be optional). Accordingly, the operator will only be able to use software from vendors with a local license.
The changes include new standards for game fairness to ensure that all games offered are transparent and fair. This includes a set of measures to certify games and regular audits of games to ensure compliance with these standards.
The new legislation includes measures to protect vulnerable players: responsible gaming policies, a dispute resolution mechanism, and a procedure for filing and handling complaints from players.
Current procedures will be brought up to international standards, which include requiring the operator to register and adhere to goAML principles.
License holders will be required to register in Curaçao and have a local presence: a physical office and 1 local key person (director or AML officer). A minimum of 3 key employees on the island will be required within two years.
The legislation will introduce a new fee structure for gambling businesses, they will be paid directly to the state. There will also be a new tax system for gambling businesses.
Exact figures and amounts will be known at the time of publication of the law. The text of the bill is not available to the public.
The Curacao Gaming Authority will be the body responsible for enforcing the new legislation. The CGA will be responsible for issuing recommendations, warnings, fines, requirements for correction, and decisions to revoke the license.
Due Diligence Procedure
The legislation provides a new procedure for the verification of all shareholders and key persons of the applicants’ companies. Particular attention will be given to verifying the sources of income and wealth of the applicants under the new regulations.
Banks and payment methods
We asked the Ministry representatives to comment on how the future legislative changes will affect payment solutions and banks. The Ministry is currently negotiating with major banks and payment solutions to improve their treatment of operators with this license.
Over the past years, operators with a Curaçao license have encountered more and more difficulties in onboarding, even in Curaçao itself. We hope that the changes to the license will enhance the ability of operators to open accounts and connect payment solutions. The Ministry has assured us that these negotiations are actively underway.
The Minister of Finance expects the new legislation to come into force at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2023.
Given the fact that current master license holders have not had their licenses renewed to this day (all expire in 2023), there is a good chance that the legislation will come into effect soon.
More information about the new requirements, as well as the cost of the license, will be available soon, after the final adoption of the bill by Parliament. Unfortunately, at the moment the bill is not in the public domain and we have to collect information from different, but verified sources.
We also prepared two charts explaining how the transition to a new license will be handled for existing sub-licensees or for applicants who do not have a valid Curaçao sub-license.
As you can see from the diagram, current sublicense holders will be invited to apply through a special online portal. This application will have to be submitted within 90 days from the entry into force of the new legislation. The operator will be able to maintain uninterrupted operation and continue to operate after submitting the application and for the duration of the provisional license, until the issuance of the full license.
The situation with the license for new operators who do not have a valid license will be radically different. They will be obliged to get a preliminary confirmation and only after that, they will be able to register a company and apply for a license. This process can take quite a long time.
We recommend that operators stay in close contact with their current legal service providers and wait for more information to come in the following months.
For our part, we are doing our best to prepare our clients with proposals for a concrete action plan to comply with the new regulatory requirements. We are keeping our finger on the pulse and will be the first to receive more detailed information regarding the requirements and inform you immediately.
We are also preparing a contingency plan for alternative licenses for those operators who will not be willing or otherwise unable to comply with the new regulatory requirements of the Curacao license.
If you have any questions about future changes or would like to discuss a plan for further action, please contact the lawyer accompanying your project. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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