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.
Curacao has been a long-standing player in the online gambling industry. Its license was established in 1996, making it one of the oldest iGaming jurisdictions in the world. Online gambling is completely legal, as long as the company has a license and is fully compliant with its terms and requirements.
Now, it is one of the most popular licensing locations in the world. There are over 450 online casinos licensed there, offering a wide range of games to players throughout the world.
Each license is issued following an application procedure and at the sole discretion of the Justice Minister. There are two kinds of license available, a master license and a sublicense. Since 1996, there have only been four master licenses issued, the rest are all sublicenses. A master license allows the holder to grant sublicenses to other casinos and online gambling sites and is not something a provider would usually apply for.
Why do you need a license?
As mentioned above, anyone wishing to operate an online casino must be licensed to be in line with the law. This will allow them to offer their services internationally, open corporate settlement accounts, sign up with payment providers, and gain the trust of clients. Those that don’t get a license are operating illegally and are at risk of large fines, possible prison time, being shut down, and severe reputational damage. Getting licensed is smart, and it’s the right thing to do.
Many jurisdictions offer online gambling licenses but Curacao is up there with the most popular and most recommended. But why?
Firstly, the Curacao license is one of the most cost-effective licenses out there. For a custom turnkey package, you are looking in the region of EUR 23,500 which includes corporate structures, banking, and payments as well as the license. You will be happy to know that renewal fees are also low and there are no gaming taxes like in other jurisdictions. It is quick to apply for and the whole process can be completed in a few weeks. This is great for startups who want to keep expenditures low and be up, running, and profitable as soon as possible.
You only need to apply for one license for all games- you just need to keep your business description up to date as you expand. The sublicense covers B2B software providers and operators including but not limited to online casinos, slots, sports betting, eSports, lottery, and games of skill and chance. Ongoing maintenance of the license and related corporate structures is also straightforward.
Another big plus point about operating from Curacao is the 0% VAT and 0% tax on corporate profits. Additionally, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, etc are permitted methods of payment for compliant operators.
What are the requirements?
No iGaming license is easy to get, but some are easier than others. The Curacao license application process is straightforward and light on bureaucracy.
Some of the requirements include providing a police clearance certificate, providing identification documents including passport and a utility bill, and presenting a banking reference. You also need a professional letter of reference from an accountant or lawyer, to prove you are a person of good standing who is capable and of a fit and proper conduct. Other documents include responsible gaming policies, AML/CFT policies, software agreements, proof of domain ownership, and your 3rd party random number generator certificate.
Of course, you will also need an account, payment gateways, a Curacao company, and an EU company. But don’t worry, these are all things that should be taken care of as a part of a turnkey package.
The last word
Overall, the Curacao license is one of the best out there. It is relatively easy to get, low cost, and well-respected. The country is socially and politically stable and is well equipped to manage the needs of iGaming providers. English is spoken throughout and the authorities are welcoming and supportive to new businesses.