2 Aug

New Laws Remove Stigma from Online Casinos in Curacao

LOK Law Will Bring New Respect to Curacao Gaming License Holders

September 1, 2023, is stacking up to become a bold entry date in the history books of online gambling. For more than two decades, online casinos waving a license from the Caribbean island had little to boast about. Come next month, that’s going to change. We have the seemingly wizened Curacaoan government to thank for it.

On that day the new National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK) will go into effect. The LOK will eliminate the long-standing Master-License / Sub-License schematic of eGaming Curacao. Henceforth, all Curacaoan internet gambling operators will receive their own licenses.

Decades of Disdain for the Curacao Gaming License

The internet gambling industry has been around nearly as long as the internet itself. The first online casinos appeared in the mid-1990s. For several years, there were no laws to wrangle the industry, no regulations to comply with. It was a precarious time, when reputation was everything; promises and guarantees, nothing.

Building Trust for Curacao Gaming License Holders

Curacao and a few other Caribbean nations were among the very first jurisdictions to attempt regulating online gambling sites. In those days, to hold a regulatory license was a sign of integrity. It meant the operator cared enough about its patrons to go that extra mile; to show them they meant business. Or so it seemed.

In truth, most of these early licenses were just for show. There were no dignifying stipulations attached. Receiving such a license was easy. All an operator had to do was, 1) pay the appropriate fee, 2) agree not to accept players from the licensing jurisdiction. That second part alone should raise a few flags, but as I said, it was the veritable Wild West of iGaming.

Sorry, Players, You’re On Your Own…

To gain some perspective on what this means for players of Curacao-licensed gambling websites, consider this. The Curacao Gaming Control Board does not accept or investigate player complaints. If a player takes issue with a licensed / sub-licensed operator, there is currently no authority to turn to for help. According to the present GCB website:

“The GCB has not yet started handling complaints as there is no formal procedure for that in place yet. The GCB currently aims to have a complaints procedures in place by the time the new legislation enters into force, which is expected to be the case in the second half of 2023.”

All these years, the government of Curacao has had a Gaming Control Board in place, but has never bothered to create procedures to handle player complaints. Fortunately, the new LOK standards will establish this, and a lot more in the way of player protections. But first, let’s take a look at how and why the licensing system got so bad.

The Master License / Sub-License Conundrum

Eventually, Curacao amended its regulatory guidelines to require compliance with stricter player protections. The island nation declared that it would issue a limited number of Master Licenses, authorizing just four of them. Any holder of a Master License had the right to issue sub-licenses to additional operators.

This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was a disaster. All it did was wash Curacao’s hands of monitoring sub-licenses, of which there were seemingly hundreds. Master Licensees were meant to watch over their sub-licensees, but that didn’t seem to be the case at all.

The regulatory network became so neglected that there were more rogue operators falsely claiming to be sub-licensees than there were actual sub-licensees. Or, perhaps it was eGaming Curacao that was neglecting to update it database of sub-licensees, making it appear that so many operators were falsely claiming to be licensed.

Whatever the case – likely a bit of both – Curacao’s gaming regulation became a joke. Not a funny one, mind you. Eventually, the joke got so old that is was virtually impossible to trust any online casino claiming Curacao licensure.

A Newfound Respect for Curacao Online Casinos

Don’t get me wrong, not all Curacao licensed online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks are bad actors. It’s the license itself that comes with negative such connotations. the truth is, there are some highly respectable iGaming websites operating from the umbrella of a Curacao Master License. The problem is that, for all these years, it’s only an operator’s reputation that players have had to go on when determining its worthiness. 

Finally, it looks like that’s going to change. After more than two decades, Curacao is changing its attitude towards online gambling regulation. The National Ordinance on Games of Chance is putting in place a new standard for iGaming. It’s not in the law books yet, but it’s well on its way adoption. Once it comes into affect, it will breed a whole new level of respect for Curacao iGaming.

LOK swam through the nation’s Council of Advice and is now awaiting parliamentary approval. The cornerstone of this reform is the National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK), which has already been presented to the country’s Council of Advice and is now on its way to parliament. Its a lock for authorization, set for enactment on September 1, 2023.

The LOK gaming license will replace the current disaster that is the Master/Sub-License system. It does a lot more than that, initializing language to overhaul the laws regarding all games of chance in Curacao. Upon enactment, however, the government’s number one priority will be the online gaming sector.

What LOK Does for Curacao iGaming Licensees

First and foremost, LOK establishes the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA). This new independent administrative agency will be in charge of enforcing LOK standards. The CGA will oversee Curacao gaming licensees, and see to the mitigation of unlawful gambling activities, including false claims of licensure.

Finance Minister Javier Silvania is confident “gaming companies in Curacao will be held directly accountable thanks to the supervision of the Curaçao Gaming Authority.” The new regulations will strengthen iGaming laws, enforce higher standards for licensure, demand greater player protections, and command meticulous oversight of licensees. In short, a Curacaoan gaming license will finally be worthy of respect, similar to those issued by European nations.

The transition to Curacao’s new regulatory standard should be a seamless one. Existing operators are being assured business will continue as usual, without interruption. Streamlining the process will be the nation’s Gambling Control Board (GCB), which is tasked with the launch of a dedicated portal to facilitate the license application process. The government is hiring a bevy of new employees to help facilitate this smooth transition.

“We are also creating more employment opportunities for locals and international specialized workers,” said Minister Silvania. “It is anticipated that additional employment will be created in IT, business support, administration, and compliance, amongst others.”

Applying for a New Curacao iGaming License

The GCB will start issuing new licenses on September 1. Every issuance will be for an individual operators license, meaning no licensee may extend a sub-license. The Board is working diligently to establish its new website, which will grant access to all the necessary forms and instructions for applying for a new Curacao gaming license.

A statement from the GCB reads: 

“We understand that navigating the licensing process might seem complex, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Our team can assist you in completing the necessary forms and compiling the relevant supporting documentation for a smooth application process. We’ll ensure that your license application meets all requirements, including Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, and adheres to the highest standards of player protection, AML procedures, KYC, responsible gaming measures, and information security.”

Keep and eye on the Curacao Gaming Control Board Website for further updates.


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