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Netherlands Antilles Online Casinos

Netherlands AntillesThe Netherlands Antilles, a set of islands in the southern Caribbean that made up a country that was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was perhaps best known as the home to a great name well-known baseball players and a popular tourism destination, not to mention an attractive place for foreigners to do some offshore banking. While the nation was dissolved in 2010, all of the territories that belonged to the Antilles are still a part of the Netherlands, forming various countries and territories that are still referred to as the Dutch Caribbean today.

Because the distinctions of these islands vary, their policies on gambling are also unique. From land-based casinos to online operations, what is allowed in, say, Aruba may be very different from what you’ll find on Sint Maarten. That means there is a wide variety of laws for us to cover here, though we can say with some confidence that anyone living anywhere in the former Netherlands Antilles can play online casino games today.

Different Designations Frame Current Legal Situations

Given the fact that what was once the Antilles is now several distinct entities, each with a different standing under Dutch law, it makes little sense to handle them together in a single discussion. Instead, we’ll take a brief look at each country or territory separately. One thing to note is that the laws of the Dutch Gambling Authority are generally not a factor here; each country in the Kingdom has the authority to set its own gaming law and regulate the industry as it sees fit.

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Aruba

Just off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is home to about 100,000 residents and is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since 1959, a regulatory authority known as the DAC has been authorized to grant casino licenses to hotels, which allow the holders to run games including slot machines, poker, and most major table games.

Many venues have taken advantage of this opportunity, and the island now contains a dozen different casinos, most of which are located in Palm Beach or Oranjestad. This has allowed the nation to become known as the “Las Vegas of the Caribbean.” Major poker tournaments are sometimes held here, and the game of Caribbean Stud Poker was first played in Aruba.

Interestingly, while both citizens of Aruba and foreigners are allowed into these resorts, locals are restricted to a maximum of eight casino visits per month and cannot receive credit from operators – rules that are designed to prevent excessive gambling by residents of the island.

Curacao

Also located just north of Venezuela, the Country of Curacao is home to a little more than 150,000 people, and like Aruba, operates as an autonomous nation within the Kingdom. Here, gaming matters are overseen by the Curacao Gaming Control Board, which was formed in 1999 to oversee all forms of gambling. Today, however, the CGCB is only concerned with land-based gaming, with online operations being passed to a separate regulator.

Today, there are more than a dozen different casinos on Curacao, most of which are located in downtown Willemstad. While these venues aren’t open 24 hours a day, most open before noon and are still available to gamers well after midnight each evening. Along with standard casino games, the CGCB also offers licensing for sports betting, something that only became available in 2014. Several resorts have successfully applied for such licenses, which allows them to operate sportsbooks alongside their other offerings.

Sint Maarten

In Sint Maarten, a country that makes up the southern half of the island of Saint Martin, about 33,000 people live in what is something of a “Wild West” situation when it comes to the gaming industry. At the moment, there is absolutely no regulatory framework for casinos in place here, with the government having put a moratorium in effect for all such licensing.

This means that although there are 13 officially recognized casinos on the island, spread out among five different cities, 12 of them are entirely unlicensed. However, because all of these operations were already running before the moratorium went into effect, the local government tolerates their existence, allowing them to continue in a nebulous grey area legally. Given the lack of effective oversight, though, it is little surprise that many illegal operations have also flourished in the nation, and lawmakers have done very little to stop them from continuing to take bets.

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba

These three areas, which have a combined population of less than even Sint Maarten, are considered special municipalities of the Netherlands, a designation they have shared ever since the dissolution of the Antillies in 2010 (they were previously part of that country). The largest of the three is Bonaire, which is home to just over 17,000 residents; Sint Eustatius has a population of just 4,000, while only 2,000 people live in Saba.

Known together as the BES Islands, the small population of these territories necessarily limits their gaming industries. While Dutch authorities have allowed for casinos connected to hotels to be licensed, this has only taken place on Bonaire, where two small venues have been licensed, including the Coral Casino and the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort, both located in the city of Kralendjik.

Online Regulations Vary as Well

As with their land-based systems, the various nations and territories of the former Netherlands Antilles also have differing policies for online gambling. While Sint Maarten and the BES Islands have no licensing program in place, both Aruba and Curacao do.

On Curacao, operators who want to run online casino sites can apply for a “master license,” which allows them to run Internet betting; such a designation also allows for the holder to offer “sub licenses” to third-party operators. The master licenses must be renewed every five years. While these sites were originally handled under the CGCB when online gambling regulation was first approved in 1993, all online operations are now regulated by the Curacao Internet Gambling Association (CIGA), which was created in 2002.

Similarly, Aruba also offers licenses to online gambling operators. However, in this case, the industry is governed by the DAC, which also oversees land-based venues. In both nations, both local and foreign players are allowed on these regulated sites, though Dutch authorities do not allow them to target players living in the Netherlands proper.

This means that if you live in Aruba or Curacao, you will have a wide range of Internet gaming options available to you. Locally-licensed sites are joined by many foreign operators who target these regions, giving players a full range of choices: those with licenses from these countries may have more oversight and consumer protections for local gamblers, while many reputable foreign sites bring in a different set of games and software providers.

In the other jurisdictions, options are variously limited. The BES Islands have no local regulation, meaning that players here can only choose from foreign sites, which still provide a rather large selection to choose from. On Sint Maarten, options are only slightly more limited: for legal reasons, some operators do not accept players from the nation, though the majority of sites that operate in “grey markets” have not taken this step.

The best online casinos in Curacao and the top gambling sites in Aruba are featured in the table at the top of this page.

Improved Regulation a Goal for the Future

Around the world, countless players enjoy betting on sites that are hosted in Aruba or Curacao. While the governments of these nations do provide some oversight, the effectiveness of this regulation has been questioned by many, with allegations of money laundering being common.In particular, sports betting sites here have faced some international scrutiny: the fact that they often allow Americans and others in jurisdictions where the activity is supposed to be illegal to play for real money has led to questions over whether they are exasperating issues of integrity and match fixing in sports. While Curacao has taken some steps to meet international standards in recent years, Aruba has been cited as a potential haven for money laundering because of its loose oversight, something that officials may look to address in the years to come.

The real question mark in this region is Sint Maarten, which has looked at instituting a regulatory regime in recent years, but has so far failed to do so. The lack of any sort of requirements for the operation of either live or online casinos here has left many wondering just how easily organized crime figures could use venues here to launder money. In some cases, the local media has even accused owners of having ties to less than reputable figures and organizations: an online site in Curacao faced a lawsuit from casino owner Francesco Corallo after referring to him as a “mafia buddy,” though the legal action was later dropped.

Largely, it is expected that the status quo in this region will be maintained for some time to come. There is little pressure in the nations themselves to reform their lax regulatory policies, which are often attractive to operators, since it makes it easy and cheap to set up shop here. The one place to watch is Sint Maarten, which may wish to finally provide clarity in their laws so that they can better control the local gaming industry. However, even this seems unlikely to take place in the next few years unless some large scandal or outside pressure forces the government’s hand.

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