As Curaçao progresses toward implementing the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK), there is growing uncertainty about how the transition will impact current license holders in the region.
The initiation of the new licensing process began on September 1, with the official launch of the license application portal by the Gaming Control Board (GCB).
The portal serves two primary functions. Firstly, it processes new applications under the existing legislation with the GCB. Secondly, it facilitates the registration of all sublicensees who wish to continue their operations uninterrupted once the LOK is enacted, and the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA) is established.
To be registered under the law, companies must be Curaçao-registered, meaning they must have a registered Curaçao address and, crucially, at least one named director located in the country. Importantly, the government has clarified that, at this point, there is no requirement for physical offices or local employees.
The current regime stipulates that master licensees must register in Curaçao. However, many operators originate from other countries, such as Cyprus. For those entities that are already registered in Curaçao, this requirement is unlikely to pose a problem.
The portal currently offers guidance on how to apply for a license and official guidance on the process. Operators will be able to begin uploading their completed applications starting from November 15.
The application process consists of three forms: an application form, a corporate disclosure, and a personal disclosure. Notably, a personal disclosure must be completed for Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) holding over 10% of the capital, including top-level employees such as CEOs.
The government has committed to processing correctly filled out applications, along with the appropriate supporting documents, within two months of the submission date. Successful applicants will receive a provisional license and have six months to submit requested audited policies and procedures.
Once the LOK is officially in effect, the government will transition existing applications from operators to the new regulatory format. This transition applies to applications at any stage of the process.
For operators who aim to continue their activities as master licensees or sublicensees under the LOK, registration on the portal is a prerequisite. This registration must occur before the government enacts the LOK, at which point the CGA will become the regulatory authority.
Day-to-day operations under all active master licenses can continue as usual. However, it is of utmost importance that the new regulator possesses a comprehensive record of all current license holders in the country.
During the transition, Sixiènne Jansen, legal advisor to Curaçao’s ministry of finance, announced that the regulator would be extending all master licenses for an additional year. This extension is a crucial element in ensuring the uninterrupted continuity of all sub-license holders' operations.
The objective of the transition into the new regulatory regime is to facilitate the seamless operation of gambling activities in Curaçao while aligning with the new legal framework and regulatory authority.
By fLEXI tEAM