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Upcoming New Curacao Gambling Regulation

I won't be wrong if I say Curacao is now the most liberal and loyal international gambling jurisdiction for establishing gambling startups or expanding the geography of operation for already working projects (for example, if the gambling project is working only with a national license or another international license). Without requirements for share capital, providing a fast licensing process, and being the cheapest one in terms of licensed gambling project establishment, Curacao is now the most famous and demanding international licensed solution in the world.

However, there are expectations and rumors that Curacao intends to implement a new and stricter gambling regime by March of 2023.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE NEW CURACAO REGULATORY FRAMEWORK IMPLEMENTATION?

Curacao authorities are still working out the specific details of its new gambling framework. The first public meetings and discussions were in the summer of this year. The Curacao government confirmed its desire and aimed to strengthen oversight of the online gambling industry by establishing a stricter regime.

APPEARANCE OF STATE REGULATORY BODY AND CANCELLATION OF PRIVATE REGULATORY REGIME

As expected, a new state supervisory body, the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA), will oversee the industry and issue licenses for B2C operators and B2B suppliers. This presents a significant change to the current system, which anticipates the issuing of gambling sublicenses on online gambling activities and, accordingly, regulating the online gambling industry by 4 private enterprises that have obtained direct licenses. The main weak point of this system is that, in fact, only these companies are setting specific terms of regulation for Curacao online gambling entities. In a nutshell, nowadays, the Curacao gambling regime is regulated by private entities, not an official state regulatory body, as in Malta or the UK. Accordingly, the government has no absolute direct control over the industry.

Following preliminary plans, the CGA will have the power to grant and revoke gaming licenses and ensure that Curacao-based operators pay taxes and license fees in the country.

WHAT IS THE CONNECTION OF THE NETHERLANDS TO THESE CHANGES?

These new planned rules are partly the result of pressure from the Netherlands to introduce new restrictions and regulations for the gambling sector. As Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch government said to review and redo its online gambling laws. In particular, the Dutch government is concerned about Curacao-based operators targeting regulated markets, including its own.

WHAT NEW REQUIREMENTS ARE EXPECTED FROM THE NEW REGULATION?

Once the new regime takes power, operators must pay a license application fee and a separate annual license fee which will be approximately €16,000 together. Licensed gambling entities will also require at least three employees in key positions based on the island within two years. They will be subject to enhanced money laundering measures. After new legislation comes into power, all existing sublicensees will be obliged to fall into the new system, with an opportunity to convert their sublicense into a transitional license that will last for 12 months.

WHEN IT ALL BECOME A REALITY?

All this is still under review and may change till the final regulation is published. Meanwhile, the gambling community is waiting to learn more about Curacao's plans. However, it is worth also considering other license options. At SBSB FinTech Lawyers, we are working on backup plans with Costa Rica, Isle of Man, Kahnawake, Alderney, and Malta, lined up as potential Curacao alternatives depending on the client's case.

However, all is not lost for Curacao yet, and much depends on how fast it will move on the new regulation. By the way, being in constant connection with the Curacao gambling regulatory bodies, we see that it is pretty far from near-days changes. But anyway, everyone should understand that such plans exist, and to ensure yourself, it is worth considering all possible scenarios for developing events around this.

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