Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based International Business & Corporate Services consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over 24 years of real-world experience in iGaming Licensing and Payments, Regulatory Compliance, Tax-Efficient Corporate Structuring, Incubator and other Hedge Fund Licenses, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency related services, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.
In 2021, the Curacao government announced it was planning a significant overhaul of its online gambling licensing regime, leaving many operators unsure of what lies ahead. As we move into 2023, the plans are somewhat delayed, with little indication of when the new system will come into play. In his latest column for Yogonet, iGaming industry consultant Ron Mendelson shares a brief analysis of this issue.
In 2020, the Dutch Government told Curacao that in return for COVID-19 aid, it must undertake a series of reforms and updates. This included changes to the online gambling regulations, which currently see licensing handled by four private entities, each holding a master license granted by the state.
The current Curacao gambling regime is considered one of the most liberal in the world, with low costs, minimal requirements, and not much in the way of supervision or scrutiny. The changes put forward by the Curacao government include:
The establishment of the Curacao Gaming Authority to oversee all licensing and gaming operations;
The issuance of B2C licenses and B2B licenses for operators;
Licensing fees start at EUR 4000 for an application, EUR 12,000 a year once approved, and EUR 250 per month for each URL;
At least three employees were hired into key positions and located on the island;
Enhanced monitoring and anti-money laundering controls.
Any existing license holders would be given the opportunity to convert their existing sub-license into a transition license for a period of 12 months. During that time, they would be able to either align themselves with the new requirements or find licensing options elsewhere. The Curacao government has already started the process of registering all existing sub-licensed operators.
But as of January, there is no official timeline of when the new rules will really come into play.
At the end of 2022, the government said the new gambling bill would be ready to be presented to parliament in February 2024. However, the timeline could be delayed due to consultations and input from key stakeholders. Then at the start of 2023, in the Q1 government update, it was noted that the deadline had indeed been moved, but no other specifics were provided.
The government said simply that the relevant departments are "still awaiting an adjusted schedule from the Curacao Ministry of Finance.” It continues that a new schedule with steps leading up to the entry into force of the law is currently under discussion and will also be shared with the Netherlands.
"In accordance with an agreement between the minister of finance of Curaçao and the minister of the legal protection of the Netherlands, official consultations will take place in January about the progress of the [gaming bill]," it said.
If you are an existing Curacao online gambling license holder, you need to contact your corporate service provider or Fast Offshore immediately to see what steps you need to take and by when. If you are currently looking at Curacao as an option for your licensing needs, you can still proceed with the process. Fast Offshore has been working in Curacao for decades and is able to help and guide you through the process, even during this transitional moment. From general advice to filing licensing applications, company incorporation, payments, compliance, and ongoing maintenance, we offer a full portfolio of services for your iGaming needs.
To find out more about Curacao as an online gambling jurisdiction now and more about what lies ahead, simply contact a member of our team here.