Curaçao finance minister: We cannot guarantee new iGaming law will be ready by March 2023
As Curaçao inches closer to implementing a new iGaming regime under pressure from the Netherlands, the island’s finance minister Javier Silvania has provided a progress update.
Last month, iGaming NEXT reported that radical reform could mean the island’s licensed companies move elsewhere and that operators are already working on back-up plans should the Dutch-Caribbean island introduce new deposit thresholds and trigger player KYC procedures.
In response to questions sent by iGaming NEXT, Silvania, who is responsible for the new law, has now said there might be a potential delay in adopting the legislation.
However, he also highlighted that the country is too far ahead in the process to take on the industry’s suggestion of a step-by-step regulatory reform, rather than a massive overnight overhaul.
iGaming NEXT: Could you please give us an overview of Curaçao as a gaming jurisdiction? What’s the sector’s size and economic importance?
Javier Silvania: The online gaming sector in Curaçao is currently not properly regulated. As such, we should be cautious when trying to estimate the sector’s size.
Although most fees are currently being paid to the master licence holders, it still creates job opportunities within the trust sector in Curaçao.
We are hoping to increase the economic importance of the online gaming sector in Curaçao by introducing legislation and proper supervision.
iGN: Could you kindly provide a brief update on the regulatory overhaul? At what stage of the process are you and what elements are you currently working on?
JS: The national ordinance regulating (online) gaming has already been drafted as well as the corresponding national decree. The law has been reviewed by the government’s legal department and their comments are currently being included in the legislation.
Curaçao finance minister Javier Silvania: “Crypto gambling is not yet included in the legislation and offering these services will not be possible with a Curaçao licence for the time being.”
Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance is currently consulting Curaçao’s trust sector for their final comments on the content of the law. In the coming six months, the law will be going through the final phases of the legislative process with ultimately a voting in parliament.
iGN: Operators fear that Curaçao’s new gaming laws will introduce deposit thresholds and trigger player KYC procedures, which will increase costs. What comments would you like to make about Curaçao’s plans?
JS: We are currently working on AML/KYC procedures that fit within the industry, which are also comparable with procedures that are usually applied in other countries.
iGN: How do you intend to regulate crypto gambling?
JS: Crypto gambling is not yet included in the legislation and offering these services will not be possible with a Curaçao licence for the time being.
iGN: What are the greatest challenges that you are facing in developing the new framework?
JS: The greatest challenge is certainly finding the perfect balance between the needs of the government and the regulators, the operators, the trust sector and, of course, the player.
iGN: What details can you share about the timeline for the roll-out of the new regulations?
JS: We are currently aiming to pass the national ordinance and the national decree in March 2023. However, this depends on several factors that are not within our control. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that the legislation will enter into force in March 2023.
iGN: Some operators commented that they would prefer a step-by-step regulatory reform rather than a massive overnight overhaul. How do you feel about taking onboard suggestions such as these?
JS: We are already very far with the process, and it is no longer possible to apply that approach. However, we have included a transition period in the national ordinance for operators who are currently providing online gaming services with a Curaçao licence.
iGN: What final message would you like to share with the international iGaming community about Curaçao and its new gambling regulatory framework?
JS: Curaçao is working hard on the regulatory framework as well as the new supervisory body. Soon Curaçao will have proper legislation and supervision as well as player protection.
We would like Curaçao to be recognised internationally as a country in which iGaming is properly regulated and supervised. We would like to be the go-to country of online gaming licences.