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Curacao Implements New Gambling Regulations: Reforming Licensing Regime for Foreign Operators

Curacao, a popular jurisdiction for online gambling licensing, is set to reform its gambling regulations with the implementation of the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK).

Curaçao Implements New Gambling Regulations: Reforming Licensing Regime for Foreign Operators

The LOK is a planned legislation aimed at revamping the licensing regime for foreign operators in Curaçao. In response to the government's request for gambling regulation reform, which was tied to financial relief amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Curaçao gambling license will undergo significant changes.

Under the current law, operators are required to apply for a sub-license from one of the four existing master license holders to obtain approval. However, the government intends to phase out this system. While the legislation has not been submitted to parliament yet, the regulators plan to issue new licenses with enhanced obligations starting from September 1st.

To ensure continuity, all master licenses will be extended for an additional year. This move aims to prevent any disruption to the current licensees' businesses. According to Roelien Jansen, a legal advisor, the transition to the new regime aims to facilitate uninterrupted operations for all sublicense holders.

Once the LOK is in force, all sub-licensees will have a 90-day deadline to apply for a new license, regardless of the remaining term of the master license. During the application process, the old regulations will apply for up to nine months after the implementation of the LOK. Jansen clarified that operators who do not wish to move to the new licensing regime can continue conducting their business until their relevant master license expires.

After September 1st, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB), the island's gambling regulator, will begin directly issuing licenses to operators. These licenses will be granted under the current legislation, not the LOK, and will not allow operators to offer sub-licenses. They will also include provisions addressing anti-money laundering and responsible gambling obligations.

Existing master license holders will still be permitted to issue sub-licenses under the current legislation. The processing of pending or paused sub-license applications will be determined by the licensees themselves. Jansen urged sub-licensees to contact their relevant master license holder for further clarification.

Jansen emphasized that there have been no changes to the legislation or permissions since the minister publicly announced the drafting of the new legislation in November. The only change on September 1st will be the issuance of new licenses.

Operators will have the choice to apply for licenses through the GCB or a master licensee, but the forthcoming implementation of the LOK means that the former category of licenses will not need to be resubmitted.

Regarding the application process for new licenses, Jansen stated that it will not be significantly different from the previous process. Operators will need to complete three forms: an online gaming application, a personal declaration identifying key individuals in the business, and corporate disclosures for Curaçao businesses.

Once the GCB is satisfied with the forms and documentation, a license will be issued. Within six months of receiving the license, audited policies and procedures will need to be submitted for evaluation. The licenses are expected to comply with international standards, including player protection, anti-money laundering procedures, know your customer (KYC) protocols, responsible gaming measures, and robust technical and information security setups.

Further updates on the fee structure of the new regime will be provided by the Ministry in September. The changes in Curaçao's gambling regulations aim to enhance the integrity and oversight of the licensing process, ensuring a safer and more responsible gambling environment.



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