Curaçao, renowned for its offshore gaming industry, is currently experiencing a substantial transformation in its gambling regulatory landscape. The Ministry of Finance has issued notices to license holders, marking the beginning of a seamless transition to the new legislative framework – the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK). This comprehensive overhaul promises significant changes, affecting license types, fees, and operational procedures for operators.
In a major shift, adjustments to license types and fees for operators have been introduced. The prospective renewal of Master Licensees is now limited, with no new extensions or renewals allowed. Master Licensees can operate until current renewals expire or when the LOK comes into force, whichever comes first. Following this period, they must apply for a new license under the LOK to continue operations.
The transition process involves crucial milestones, such as the registration of sub-licenses on the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) portal, which is no longer possible after March 31, 2024. Operators are required to apply for a direct license under the current legislation before this date. The transition, known as “grandfathering,” applies exclusively to direct license holders under the existing law as of March 31, 2024.
The GCB has undertaken the renewal of all gambling licenses in Curaçao, starting in August 2024 and concluding in January 2025. License holders gained the ability to display a Digital Seal on their websites from January 1, 2024. This seal, issued by the GCB, serves as a symbol of compliance with the regulations. The GCB plans to release a dedicated policy on Digital Seals in the future.
Curaçao’s gambling overhaul was first announced in July 2022, with the Dutch government recognizing the jurisdiction’s reform efforts. The LOK, introduced in December 2023, is poised to revolutionize gambling regulations. The legislative timeline, outlined by legal advisors and the Minister of Finance, underscores the importance of accurate information dissemination and expresses support for the GCB during this transitional period. At the same time Members of the Curacao Parliament expressed concern with the proposed legislation and believe that it should not be reviewed in the current format.
Due to uncertainty with the upcoming changes and the refusal of Master Licensees to review new prospective licensees, current and new Operators are exploring alternative jurisdictions such as Anjouan, Kahnawake and the Isle of Man. Curaçao is perceived by some as unstable, leading to increased interest in these alternative locations with minimal local requirements or established gaming territories.
In an effort to showcase its appeal, Curaçao highlighted a reduction in license fees from €61,700 to €49,200 per annum under the new legislation. The new regulations introduce an annual license fee of €49,200 with 50 domain names included, with an additional €250 charge for each gaming domain. Notably, licensees grandfathered into the new system won’t face the annual fee charge until the first anniversary of the rules, offering a temporary relief during the transition.
At the moment, we advise our current Clients to extend their licenses with their Master Licensees. Prospective Clients are welcome to discuss alternative licenses we can offer, such as Anjouan or Kahnawake.
The National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) has been officially submitted to Parliament and the Minister of Finance has initiated a sequence of procedures to facilitate a seamless transition from the existing framework to the new system upon the law’s enactment. Licenses under the new framework (issued by NOOGH…
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