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Curaçao issues guidelines for crucial 31 March licensing deadline

| By Marese O'Hagan
Curaçao's Gaming Control Board (GCB) has issued a set of guidelines for operators ahead of the upcoming 31 March deadline, whereby registration for sub-licences on the GCB's portal will no longer be possible.
Curaçao 31 March

Applications for direct licences under Curaçao’s current legislation – the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH) – will also not be available after 31 March.

All operators who wish to continue to operate in Curaçao’s market must register by this date.

The guidelines focus on registrations under the NOOGH, as opposed to the incoming National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LOK). The LOK is currently moving through Curaçao’s parliament. If all goes to plan, it will bring about a new era for gambling in Curaçao.

Once the LOK is in play, the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA) will become the jurisdiction’s regulator. All licences will then be issued under it.

What are the guidelines?

The GCB released the guidelines in a nine-page document issued yesterday (13 March), split into six parts. It details the exact licence application process and provides information on extra documents that must be submitted.

An application will be classed as submitted if it contains three complete forms: the online gaming application form; the personal history disclosure form; and the corporate and business information form.

If other documents – such as police conduct reports – are not submitted by 31 March and the operator’s application necessitates these, the applicant must show that measures have been taken to receive them.

Master licensors are responsible for securing the registrations of all their sub-licensees and related domains. Applications from operators that are not existing sublicensees or master licensees, however, can be submitted after the LOK is enacted. This includes after 31 March.

Issuing clear guidelines to operators could combat instances of misinformation. Curaçao’s minister of finance Javier Silvania spoke out against misinformation surrounding the LOK process in January. This was in response to incorrect reports that the LOK had been rejected by Curaçao’s parliament.

“… amid this entire process we have been all too aware of a significant amount of misinformation, confusion and accuracy and I strongly urge against the further propagation of unverified rumours or speculation,” said Silvania at the time.

“Full and accurate information can only be guaranteed when issued by either the ministry [of finance] itself or the Curaçao Gaming Control Board.”

Operators could risk operating illegally

At ICE London last month, Cedric Pietersz, managing director of the GCB explained the crossroad 31 March represents.

“Imagine that you have a sub-licence of a master licence holder, whose licence expires on 31 August,” Pietersz explained. “That means if you don’t apply and it’s 31 March, you can continue operating on your licence.”

“But after 31 August, which is the date of the expiration of your master licence, you will be operating illegally because you don’t have a sub-licence and you don’t have a licence from the Gaming Control Board.”

He emphasises that this is all related to when the LOK comes into force. For example, if the LOK is passed and signed in June, an operator that didn’t register before 31 March will become illegal from the date in June.

“Why? Because the law has passed and then the master licence agreement is not enforced anymore.”

LOK process continues to ramp up

The process of preparing for the LOK’s implementation began in September last year, when the GCB opened the application process through its online portal. The portal began accepting account registrations from 1 November.

Also in September, the GCB revealed that Hilary Stewart-Jones would join as an advisor to its board.

The following weeks saw Curaçao broadcast the benefits of the LOK. Silvania said that the LOK would provide a “safety net” against grey-listing by legitimising operations in the region. Curaçao had picked up a reputation for slack AML and KYC procedures, something the LOK aims to fix.

Silvania also confirmed the licence fees, and went on to assert the necessity of the LOK in front of the jurisdiction’s parliament last month.

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