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Curaçao gambling regulation bill enters parliament

| By iGB Editorial Team
A bill that will regulate how gambling is operated in Curaçao is now with the country's parliament for approval.

The ministry of finance has also issued notice to licence holders under the current law (NOOGH) regarding the milestones for a seamless transition to the new legislative framework.

The incoming National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK) will overhaul how gambling is regulated in the region.

The re-regulation will see facets of the current law change. Among the main alterations are adjustments to licence types and fees for operators.

Prospective renewal of Current Gaming Licences (Master Licencees)

From this point forward, there will be no new extensions or renewals of Master Licenses. Master Licensors will only be able to continue to operate and permit sublicensees to do so until current renewals expire. Or, when the LOK come into force, whichever happens first.

On the passing of LOK, or when there are no less 12 weeks of the current renewal remaining, depending on which happens first, the Master Licensor must promptly notify the GCB which sub-licences remain contracted to it.

After this time, Master Licensors, should they wish to continue operations in their own right, will need to wait until LOK is implemented and apply for a new licence.

What are the milestones?

Registration of sub-licences on the Curaçao Gaming Control Board (GCB) portal and the subsequent application for a direct licence under the current legislation – if required by the sub-licensee – will no longer be possible after 31 March 2024.

From this point forward, there will be no new extensions or renewals of Master Licences.

The portal opened on 1 September, officially kicking off the application process. Account registrations for applicants and sub-licensee holders could be submitted from 1 November. The portal has two functions – processing new applications under the current legislation and registering licensees.

Any sub-licensee that has not been registered along with their domains listed on the GCB portal will no longer be permitted to operate after 31 March.

Transition into the new framework under a provisional licence when the LOK is brought into force – known as “grandfathering” – will apply only to direct licence holders under the NOOGH as of 31 March. Applications in progress will continue without interruption. 

Any operator that wishes to continue operating in Curaçao, but has not applied for a direct licence from the GCB before March 31, can only continue operating under their sub-licence until the master licence expires or when the LOK is enacted – whichever date is sooner.

The sub-licensees will then need to apply for a new licence under the LOK.

In addition, the GCB has renewed all gambling licences in Curaçao. The first of these renewals will cease in August 2024 and the last one in January 2025.

From 1 January 2024, licence holders will be allowed to display a Digital Seal on their website. This Digital Seal will be issued by the GCB. Registered applicants that have submitted an application could also receive permission to display the Digital Seal on their site. The GCB will issue a policy on Digital Seals in the future.

How did the jurisdiction get to this point?

Curaçao’s new gambling overhaul process was first announced in July 2022. In January this year the Dutch government said Curaçao was working on a “new schedule” for reform.

At iGB L!VE this year, Sixiènne Jansen, legal advisor to Curaçao’s ministry of finance, outlined what the jurisdiction’s new regulatory timeline was set to look like from 1 September onwards.

Things only ramped up from there. Javier Silvania, Curaçao’s minister of finance spoke out in support of the LOK in September. He said it would act as a “safety net” in preventing grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force.

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