February 8, 2024
Curacao is dead - long live...?

Perhaps you have already heard that Curacao is one of the most well-known, simple, affordable, and popular jurisdictions for registering and licensing gambling businesses (both startups and recognized brands) over the past few decades?

In fact, the Government of Curacao was one of the first in the world to adopt legislation to regulate the online gambling market back in 1993. In 1996, the Gaming Licensing Authority was established and started issuing the first licenses. Thus, Curacao had a fairly soft and regulated gambling law with affordable licensing requirements and a quick time frame for obtaining an online gambling license (just 4-6 weeks), which was used by more than 450 companies. However, the situation has turned upside down recently.

Right now, Curacao is on the verge of implementing a new bill that will update the entire gambling licensing system in this jurisdiction and will strengthen the monitoring of operators, control of AML, and player protection.

On June 22, 2023, Curacao's Minister of Finance Javier Silvania made a shocking announcement about the speeding up of regulatory reforms during the iGaming NEXT Valletta conference. Thus, starting from September 1, 2023, Curacao will significantly tighten the gambling industry regulation regime and gambling license issuance rules to control the «gray operators» and avoid being at the top of the list of «easy to get» jurisdictions for gambling licenses.

The system of issuing Master Licenses and sub-licenses will cease to exist starting from the following autumn. Instead, each gambling operator will have to obtain a direct license and will be personally responsible to the regulator for compliance with internationally recognized standards.

The amendments also include the creation of a new independent regulatory authority called the Curacao Gambling Authority (CGA), which will replace the Curacao Gambling Control Board. Once the new gambling regulation law, called the Landsverordening op de Kansspelen (LoK), comes into effect, the CGA will be the authority to issue licenses, monitor operators and punish violators. Until the CGA launches, the Gambling Control Board will issue new licenses.

The reform of Curacao's gaming system is taking place due to pressure from the Dutch government, which emphasizes the need to establish robust standards in the gambling industry, especially in terms of AML, fraud prevention and player protection.

Changes also include increased license fees, the exact amount of which has not been announced by the Government yet. In addition, there will be a requirement to have at least three local employees who will be hired for key positions in your company.

Consequently, the Curacao government is very concerned about "disturbing corporate behavior" and the flow of illegal funds into the island from certain dishonest operators, and therefore introduces new strict rules for obtaining an online gaming license.

Thus, Curacao is losing its status as a leading jurisdiction with soft legislation and weak monitoring of gambling activities, and other jurisdictions are getting more opportunities to attract new customers and investments.

Certainly, you can try to go with the flow and apply for a new gambling license in Curacao, but it is impossible to guarantee a 100% positive result at this time.

The "collapse of the Curacao era" is the beginning of a new era for other jurisdictions with existing gambling regulation.

In our opinion, previously unknown Anjouan will turn into a new «harbor» for both gambling startups and well-known companies soon. This Indian Ocean island, which is part of the Comoros archipelago, is famous not only for its landscapes but also for simple, optimized legislation on obtaining both B2C and B2B gambling licenses.

The Anjouan Gaming License is a comprehensive type of license that can be used for various online gaming operations, such as casinos, poker, betting, lotteries, and even the provision of White-Labeling software and services.

This jurisdiction does not require the establishment of a local company to obtain a license, and also has zero tax on gaming (0% on Gross Gaming Revenue and 0% on VAT). You can get a license in 5-7 business days, if you have all the necessary documents. The price and license fees are also low in comparison with other countries.

The Isle of Man and Gibraltar can also serve as an alternative to Curacao. These jurisdictions are famous for their authority and have issued a significant number of licenses for gambling companies.

In particular, the advantages of licensing in the Isle of Man are:

- good reputation and reliability of this jurisdiction;

- regulatory flexibility (the Isle of Man Gambling Supervisory Commission (GSC) is known for its ability to cooperate with licensees to find solutions to regulatory issues, rather than simply penalize them);

- efficient and transparent licensing process;

- a wide range of license types that meet the needs of different types of gambling operators (Full license, Sub-license, Network services license, B2b software supplier license)

- low tax on gambling activities (0.1% - 1.5% on Gross Gaming Revenue);

- the license is on the "white" list of the UK Gambling Commission, which allows operators to advertise their services in the UK.

The disadvantages include high license fees and ongoing annual fees, as well as the need to register a local company with at least two directors who must be residents of the Isle of Man.

The advantages of licensing in Gibraltar are:

- a reliable reputation (the jurisdiction is extremely demanding of its licensees and issues licenses only to the most reliable companies);

- Gibraltar is a member of the EU and is included in the "white list" of the UK Gambling Commission;

- there are four types of licenses for remote gaming (Remote Gaming B2C Operator, Remote Betting B2C Operator, ther Remote B2C Gambling Products, Gambling B2B Support Services);

- low tax on gambling activities (1% on Gross Gaming Revenue, 0% VAT);

- access to the European iGaming market.

The disadvantages include complicated and lengthy licensing process (the average period for obtaining a license is 2-6 months) and considerable expenses for obtaining one or more licenses.

Therefore, not all companies licensed in Curacao will be able to meet all the strict requirements in early autumn and obtain a new license. So, it is time to think about alternatives now. Each jurisdiction has both its advantages and disadvantages, that is why we strongly recommend consulting a lawyer before registering your gambling business and choosing a jurisdiction for licensing.

We remind you that unlicensed activities are usually illegal and can potentially lead to unpleasant consequences for both the company and its owners (penalties can range from fines to imprisonment depending on the country in which the violation occurred).

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