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Curaçao will start issuing direct licences to gambling operators and will hold them accountable to internationally recognised standards from 1 September.

Finance minister Javier Silvania revealed Curaçao’s decision to expedite the regulatory reform process today (22 June) during iGaming NEXT Valletta 23.

Silvania said he has become increasingly aware of “troubling corporate behaviour” in recent months that warrants “immediate action”.

Curaçao first announced its intention to overhaul the regulatory regime for the iGaming industry and abolish the current system of master and sub-licences last summer.

The new law, called the National Ordinance on Games of Chance (LOK), is currently progressing through the parliamentary process.

Earlier this month, the LOK was presented to the country’s Council of Advice, the final step before presenting it to parliament.

While he is satisfied with the progress, he said “lax practices within gambling operations, particularly concerning AML measures, fraud prevention and player protection” can no longer be tolerated.

New standards

Therefore, Silvania said he has directed the Gaming Control Board (GCB), the current regulator, to begin implementing and upholding the new standards.

The GCB will begin issuing new licences to operators under the existing legislation, with a plan to transfer these licences into the new regulatory framework once it is enacted.

To ensure a smooth transition for existing operators willing to adopt the new regime, the government will allow for “uninterrupted business operations”.

The GCB is set to launch a dedicated portal for operators to register, facilitating the process of obtaining a direct licence.

“It pains me to hear that Curaçao licences have been labelled as ‘quick and easy to obtain’, accompanied by ‘lesser regulations’ and ‘lax monitoring’ compared to other jurisdictions,” Silvania said.

However, Silvania stressed that “this sentiment will be unequivocally reversed through the new legislation”.

Going forward, the finance minister said Curaçao “wants to know who owns the businesses operating from within our borders by conducting appropriate and consistent levels of due diligence”.

He added: “We require transparency regarding the source of funds flowing into our country, and we insist that operators adhere to legislation that aligns with reputable jurisdictions and, at the very least, meets the minimum requirements of international laws and guidance on anti-money laundering.

Lastly, Curaçao will “demand robust player protection and data security”.

Regulatory cooperation

The LOK, which includes the establishment of a completely new regulator body known as the Curaçao Gaming Authority, will not only prevent but also mitigate any unwelcome and unlawful activities, according to the minister.

This will ensure that Curaçao would no longer be known as the “red-headed step-child” of the gambling industry, he stressed.

Silvania also pledged close cooperation with other regulatory authorities around the world.

“By collaborating with and working alongside other jurisdictions, we ensure a level playing field for operators and suppliers, all while safeguarding the interests of players and preserving the integrity of the gaming industry as a whole,” he concluded.  

Silvania highlighted that the majority of Curaçao-licensed operators “uphold integrity and adhere to best practices”, but the country can no longer overlook the fact that some have tarnished our nation’s reputation”.

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