Curacao no longer a gambling licence haven; must tighten gambling regulation

Curacao Gambling License Haven

Curacao agreed to tighten gambling regulation and introduce new restrictions and rules as the Netherlands – a heavily regulated market itself – pressured the tiny island nation to do so.

After getting its second tranche of financial backing from the Netherlands in May, Curacao government was told that the support would no longer come without any obligations. The main obligation Curacao now has, as the government agreed to the proposal, is to introduce certain restrictions for granting online gambling licences. What this means is that the notorious Curacao licence – essentially behaving like no licence at all for those who can’t meet the standards of a real one – will become a true gambling licence with its own set of rules.

There are several thousands of online casinos and betting sites that currently operate with one of four licences issued in Curacao, and most are choosing this licence because they’re targeting players from territories that they are not allowed or authorized to operate in, which includes the Netherlands. This last bit is probably what prompted the Dutch government to intervene, as they’re trying to protect their own players from playing at casinos that aren’t authorised to offer their services in the Netherlands.

Curacao has to form a new regulator

Curacao agreed to form a new independent gambling regulator that will be tasked with overseeing the gambling industry in the country and with issuing licences to gambling operators. This must be set up by March 1, 2021.

A thing that online casinos that currently hold a Curacao licence definitely did not want to hear is that Curacao is expected to revoke the licences of operators that won’t comply with the new regulations.

At the moment, there is no government licencing body in Curacao as master licencees are mostly private telecom companies that are sub-licencing online casinos and betting sites. These are commercial licences that simply cost a certain fee but there’s no one overseeing or regulating the activities of gambling sites.

Operators will be paying taxes

At the moment, since Curacao isn’t really issuing licences, there’s no tax being paid by the operators. This too is about to change as Curacao will be asked to tax the revenue of gambling operators it issued licences to.

Locally licenced gambling sites will be required to pay taxes and corporate taxes, as well as licence fees. Master licencees currently pay a 2% corporate tax on their activities, as well as $130,000 for the master licence fee anually. Sub-licencees, the gambling sites, don’t pay any taxes at all since they actually operate from other countries.

No players from regulated territories

Under the proposals of the new Country Package, the newly licenced gambling operators won’t be allowed to accept players from other regulated territories, except for a few countries that do accept licences from Curacao.

This part of the deal states that Curacao and the new regulator must come up with a plan by September 1, 2021 to prevent licence holders from targeting players from prohibited countries.

This plan was set in place specifically to make it impossible for Curacao-licenced gambling operators to target players from the Netherlands. But this will also mean that the Curacao licence will only be good for Curacao itself (160,000 residents) and for few select other countries.

In other words, Curacao licence as a sign of “trust” on casino and betting sites that operate in unregulated markets will no longer exist. The operators will have to find a new way to display their trustworthiness to customers.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands itself is stuck in an endless loop of trying to regulate – many would say over-regulate – its domestic online gambling market.

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