Curaçao Strengthens Gambling Regulation: Direct Licenses and International Standards Implementation from 1st September.
Finance Minister Javier Silvania Announces Regulatory Reform to Address Troubling Corporate Behavior.
In a significant move, Curaçao has unveiled plans to issue direct licenses to gambling operators and enforce internationally recognized standards, starting from 1st September. Finance Minister Javier Silvania made this announcement during the iGaming NEXT Valletta 23 conference, expressing his concerns about recent troubling corporate behavior that necessitates immediate action.
Curaçao had previously revealed its intention to revamp the regulatory regime for the iGaming industry, including the elimination of the current system of master and sub-licenses. Progress has been made with the National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK), the new law designed to bring about these changes, which is currently advancing through the parliamentary process. The LOK was recently presented to the country’s Council of Advice, the final step before parliamentary presentation.
Despite acknowledging the progress made, Minister Silvania emphasized the need to address lax practices within gambling operations, particularly in areas such as anti-money laundering measures, fraud prevention, and player protection. To enforce the new standards, Silvania has directed the Gaming Control Board (GCB), the existing regulator, to begin implementing and upholding them. Initially, the GCB will issue new licenses to operators under the current legislation, with the intention of transitioning these licenses into the new regulatory framework upon its enactment. The government aims to ensure uninterrupted business operations during this transition phase.
To facilitate the licensing process, the GCB will launch a dedicated portal for operators to register their applications for direct licenses. Minister Silvania expressed disappointment over Curaçao licenses being perceived as “quick and easy to obtain” with lesser regulations and lax monitoring compared to other jurisdictions. However, he emphasized that the new legislation will unequivocally reverse this sentiment.
Going forward, Curaçao aims to conduct thorough due diligence to identify the owners of businesses operating within its borders. Transparency regarding the source of funds entering the country will be required, along with adherence to legislation that aligns with reputable jurisdictions and meets the minimum requirements of international laws and guidance on anti-money laundering. Robust player protection and data security will also be demanded.
The LOK introduces the establishment of a new regulatory body, the Curaçao Gaming Authority, which will not only prevent but also mitigate any unwelcome and unlawful activities. Minister Silvania highlighted the importance of shedding the reputation of Curaçao as the “red-headed step-child” of the gambling industry through these regulatory reforms.
Moreover, Curaçao aims to foster close cooperation with regulatory authorities worldwide. By collaborating and working alongside other jurisdictions, the country seeks to ensure a level playing field for operators and suppliers while safeguarding players’ interests and preserving the integrity of the gaming industry as a whole. Minister Silvania acknowledged that most Curaçao-licensed operators adhere to integrity and best practices but stressed that the nation can no longer overlook the tarnishing of its reputation by some operators.
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