Curacao Opens Licence Application Portal, Streamlining iGaming Licensing

Curacao, a prominent hub for the iGaming industry, has taken a significant step towards enhancing its regulatory framework by announcing a new license application portal, which will be live as of 1 November 2023. This move aims to streamline the licensing process, bolster legal compliance, and fortify the island’s reputation as a hub for online gambling operators.

The Curacao Gaming Control Board (GCB) unveiled the license application portal at the end of August. The portal is designed to expedite the licensing process for online gambling operators, making it more accessible and efficient. This development is crucial when the iGaming industry is witnessing exponential growth worldwide.

With the iGaming sector’s rapid expansion, regulatory bodies in various jurisdictions have been working diligently to ensure the industry remains secure, fair, and transparent. Curacao, a jurisdiction known for its flexible licensing regime, has recognised the importance of strengthening its regulatory framework to attract reputable operators while protecting consumers. It comes after reform was called for by The Netherlands to strengthen and tighten controls on iGaming on the island. This meant doing away with the master license/sub-license system, centralising applications, and increasing compliance requirements.

New rules which will do away with the previous master license/sub-license system are still in the process of passing the necessary legal hoops, meaning applications can still be fielded in this manner. But as of 15 November, operators can use the new license application portal to apply for a Curacao license without the involvement of a master license holder. The license issued via the platform, even before the new laws are enforced, is called a LBH license. It is attractive to new applicants who do not want to apply under the master-license sub-license system and then again when the new laws come into force in 2024.

While it may sound complicated, Fast Offshore are on hand to guide you through the process, be it applying via the master license system, the new portal, or waiting until 2024.

The Lure of Curacao

Curacao has long been a preferred destination for iGaming operators due to its favorable tax regime and relatively low licensing fees. The new portal maintains these advantages while adding efficiency and transparency to the licensing process. This could result in a surge of new applicants seeking to establish their operations in Curacao, boosting the island’s economy.

Furthermore, the portal is equipped with robust compliance checks and verification processes to ensure that only reputable and financially stable operators are granted licenses. This stringent vetting process aligns with international best practices and aims to prevent money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activities within the iGaming sector.

The Curacao Gaming Control Board has also committed to providing timely assistance to applicants through its dedicated support team. This proactive approach will help applicants navigate any complexities and ensure that they meet all regulatory requirements, further promoting legal compliance within the industry.

Benefits of Curacao License

One of the primary benefits of obtaining a Curacao iGaming license is access to a vast global market. Operators with Curacao licenses can offer their services to players from various countries, making it an attractive choice for businesses looking to expand their reach. This international appeal is expected to drive increased interest in Curacao as a licensing jurisdiction.

Additionally, the licensing portal incorporates measures to ensure ongoing compliance with regulations. License holders are required to adhere to strict reporting and auditing requirements, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability. The Curacao Gaming Control Board will actively monitor operators to ensure they maintain the highest standards of integrity.

Who Can Apply for a Curacao License?

There are two categories of applicants under the new regime. They are as follows:

Direct License Applicants. This refers to applicants who want to get a Curacao iGaming license from the Curacao authorities under the new rules.

Registered Operators. These are operators currently licensed under the old regime, such as a sublicense holder. These sub-licensees will have the option to apply for a new license based on the incoming regulations.

Those applying for a license must meet the following objectives:

  1. Offer safe games through equipment and systems that are protected against viruses, hacking, cyber-attacks and online crime.
  2. Be responsible in the approach to players, treating them fairly and establishing safeguards against addiction, underage gambling and vulnerable players.
  3. Be stable, operate with integrity and ensure the platform’s continuity and compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements.
  4. Operate with transparency, with all operations being transparent, accessible and administered correctly.

In addition, the operator may not offer their services to company employees, those under 18, residents of Curacao, or those who have chosen self-exclusion from participating in games. They must not allow players to go into a negative balance, must get approval from the authorities for any changes to structure or key personnel, and must commit to maintaining a safe and secure gaming environment. They must also adhere to information security policies and processes and audits per the regulator’s requirements. 

Game Certification and Transparency

All games provided by operators must be certified by a third-party and independent testing laboratory. These certifications should be given to the authorities during the application process and updated when required. Terms and conditions relating to the games and platform must also be displayed clearly on the site, including player obligations, dispute resolution, and any amendments.

Handling Complaints and Responsible Gambling 

All operators with a Curacao license must have simple, free, and transparent processes for dealing with player complaints. All players must also be able to exclude themselves and set their own playing and deposit limits. In addition, platforms cannot market to minors or problem gamblers and must be honest and fair. All responsible gaming policies are subject to audit and review by the authorities.

Reporting Obligations and Administration

Operators must keep separate records for games of chance, ensuring the are transparent and compliant. Accounts must be filed annually, and interim reports can be requested on demand. All information required by the authorities, including change and incident reports, must be provided on time, with the latter within 24 hours.

Requirements for Curacao License

Under the new rules, all documents must be filled out and submitted online via the official portal. This can be done on your behalf by Fast Offshore. Requirements include:

  • To have a legal entity incorporated under Curacao laws with a registered local office;
  • Submit an Online Gaming License Application Form
  • Submit a Business and Corporate Disclosure Form
  • Submit a Personal History Disclosure Form.

The authorities will then assess the integrity and suitability of the applicant, all beneficial owners, interest holders, directors, managing directors and compliance officers. The financial viability and integrity of the platform are also evaluated. In some cases, additional requirements may be levied against individual operators, depending on the specific circumstances.

The license application is evaluated within two months, and licenses are granted with a validity of one year, which is renewable. Details of costs are not yet publicly confirmed.

So, What Next?

As one of the leading service providers in Curacao, Fast Offshore remains dedicated to supporting our clients, existing and new, during this transformative period. Curacao is making significant strides in modernizing its online gaming regulations, designed to align the island’s gaming laws with international standards. While the final legislation is pending publication, operators can now resume license issuance under the existing regulations, ensuring continuity of their operations as they prepare for the transition.

Starting from November 1st, 2023, both current and new operators can register through the online portal. Fast Offshore stands ready to assist our clients with their inquiries and registration needs during this transitional phase in Curacao. Whether you require corporate services, licensing assistance, or guidance on other jurisdictions, our experienced team is here to help. We encourage all interested parties to reach out for personalized support as Curacao’s gaming landscape evolves under the new regulatory regime. Your success is our priority. Contact us today!