Charting A New Course for Curaçao

  • Curaçao's gambling reform aims for enhanced player protection and stricter AML measures
  • Progress has been slow, with uncertainty surrounding implementation as June 2023 closes
  • Financial aid during the pandemic prompted changes in Curaçao's licensing system
  • Minister of Finance plans to issue new licenses by September 2023, despite challenges
Lawbooks and Lady Justice
Curaçao’s reform on gambling has been a lengthy affair, but there seems to be some movement on the horizon. [Image:]

A major overhaul

The Curaçao gambling legislation overhaul was announced in 2022, promising improved player protection, stricter anti-money laundering (AML) processes, and a change in the master licenses model. The overhaul was planned to spring into action no later than March 2023, but with the end of June 2023 looming, there is more and more uncertainty about what comes next.

current master license model has a reputation for being lenient and easy to obtain

The Dutch-Caribbean island’s current master license model has a reputation for being lenient and easy to obtain, with far less monitoring than other jurisdictions. The regulation reform has been fairly slow, garnering criticism from the Netherlands and other regulators. However, the current Minister of Finance, Javier Silvania is committed to revamping the legislation and ending what he called, “unsavory practices.”

What’s happened so far?

The government of Curaçao sought financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, which put the Netherlands in a position where it could ask for certain changes. The same government also blocked all operators under the Curaçao license from obtaining Dutch gambling licenses. This has led to a push to streamline the current licensing in Curaçao.

this could push a lot of operators out of the market

In addition to the reform in the master license practice of this jurisdiction, the reform will enact stricter AML rules, which are currently non-existent and will also concentrate more on player protection and responsible gambling. Both the Dutch and Curaçao governments understand that this could push a lot of operators out of the market, but many believe this might be good for the gaming industry.

Various governmental entities have been involved in drafting the new regulations but have faced pushback and overwhelming feedback from the Dutch government. The approval from the Netherlands is crucial as the relevant authorities need to review and make recommendations on the new regulations.

What’s next for Curaçao?

Although progress has been slow and plagued with pushbacks and recent money laundering accusations from the Brazilian authorities, Curaçao is pushing forward to have these regulations come into action as soon as possible.

Minister Silvania announced at iGaming Next in Valletta, Malta, on June 22, 2023, that the gaming control board could issue new licenses starting September 1, 2023.

He also clarified that although the new regulations will come into action with the new licenses, the operators with the current master license won’t face disruptions, but will be consulted for issues relating to AML, fraud prevention, and player protection to transition to the new regime seamlessly.

Curaçao is working towards becoming a reputable jurisdiction

His final comments assured the audience that Curaçao is working towards becoming a reputable jurisdiction that meets, at least, the minimal AML international legislations, and will hold its licensees to higher standards. Minister Silvania promised more accountability, adherence to international laws, and better due diligence for the transparency of funds.

Curacao’s Minister of Finance Javier Silvania introduced the new igaming regime, The National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK) during a keynote speech at SIGMA on November 15th 2022

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