Application portal opens for new Curaçao online gambling licences

Curaçao's sub-licensees must apply for direct operator licences.
Curaçao's sub-licensees must apply for direct operator licences.

The Curaçao’s Gaming Control Board has opened access to application forms for new licences.

Curaçao.- The Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) has opened an online portal providing access to application forms for new Curaçao online gambling licences. The portal provides information on the licensing process along with downloads and guidance notes. The regulator will begin accepting completed licence applications in November.

The application portal is open to new operators and holders of Curaçao sublicenses under the existing licensing system. Existing sublicensees will be able to continue to operate without interruption.

The new licensing process comes ahead of the implementation of reforms to Curaçao igaming licence regime under the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK). The new legislation adds to the existing National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard, changing how foreign online gambling operators are licensed.

Operators that are accepted for a licence after submissions open in November will receive a provisional licence subject to the provision of audited policies and procedures within six months of issuance. They will have no need to re-apply under the LOK since they will be transferred to the new authority.

The LOK is intended to introduce higher licensing standards amid international pressure. It replaces the current system of “master licences.” These are held by four private businesses, which can each provide licences to operators. The regime has been criticised for its ease of access and little scrutiny, something that the Netherlands, in particular, has been keen to change. Under the LOK, sub-licensees will have three months to submit an application to the GCB for a direct operator licence.

The Dutch government has been keeping a careful eye on the Caribbean island’s reforms to its igaming licensing due to the number of operators targeting European markets without local licences. It had cited reforms to gambling licensing laws as a condition for state aid during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new legislation will introduce tougher money laundering controls and licensees will need to have a minimum of three employees in “key positions” on the island. There has been speculation that the tightening of restrictions may lead some operators to leave the jurisdiction.

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