Curaçao master licence holders will receive a licence extension of up to one year until the new gambling legislation enters into force.

“We are aware of a lot of speculation as to the state of the master licences,” Sixienne Jansen, legal adviser to Curaçao’s Ministry of Finance, said at iGB Live in Amsterdam today (12 July).

Operators will not be required to halt or cease their operations and the transition process will also aim to facilitate uninterrupted continuity for all sub-licence holders, she added.

Transition period

Upon the enactment of the new gambling regulation, known as the LOK, master licence holders will automatically transition to the new regime, provided they comply with the policies and regulations within a specified time frame.

Sublicensees who wish to continue operating under the new regime will have a transition period of three months to commence their application for a licence under the LOK.

Jansen clarified that during the application and processing period, sublicensees can continue their operations as usual for up to nine months after the LOK is implemented.

However, operators who choose not to transition to the new licensing regime must cease operations once the relevant master licence expires.

New licences

Moving forward, starting from 1 September, the Gaming Control Board (GCB) will begin issuing new licences directly to operators.

As already announced at iGaming NEXT Valletta 23, these licences will be granted under the current legislation, not under the LOK, and will come with certain conditions.

“It is important to note that holders of these licences will not be allowed to issue sublicences,” said Jansen.

“Furthermore, stipulations regarding policies such as anti-money laundering (AML) and responsible gaming will be attached to these licences,” she added.

Jansen clarified that master licence holders can continue issuing sublicences from 1 September at their discretion until the LOK is enacted.

However, when the LOK is enacted, operators with only a sublicence will need to apply for a new licence under the LOK, following the standard transition process that includes Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.

Three forms

Jansen added that the application process for licences through the GCB is relatively straightforward.

It involves completing three forms accompanied by relevant supporting documentation.

These forms include the online gaming application, the personal declaration, and corporate disclosures.

Applicants will need to provide information on their proposed business operations, alongside the key individuals involved and any details of the Curaçao company.

Due diligence will require supporting documentation.

“Any UBO with 10% or more of the business ownership will have to provide fully verifiable identity information, source of wealth and source of funds, which will confirm that UBOs are fiscally stable to sustain the licence and, of course, that the sources are legitimate,” Jansen highlighted.

Once an applicant satisfies the GCB with the forms and documentation, a licence will be issued.

Within six months of receiving the licence, audited policies and procedures must be submitted.

These policies encompass player protection, dynamic AML procedures, KYC, responsible gaming measures, and robust technical and information security set-ups.

Finland’s government has committed to dismantling Veikkaus’ long-standing gambling monopoly and will introduce a new licensing system no later than 1 January 2026.

The government programme, as first reported by Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, suggests the new licensing system will cover online casino games and online betting.

Under the proposed changes, Veikkaus’ exclusive operations and competitive market operations will be separated into different companies within the same group.

The operator is expected to maintain exclusivity over the lottery, but no other verticals.

The primary objective of the government’s reform agenda is to address and mitigate the adverse health, financial, and social consequences associated with gambling.

Additionally, the government hopes to improve the efficiency of the gambling system by enhancing channelisation.

Last year, Veikkaus acknowledged losing market share to unregulated iGaming platforms.

This development prompted Veikkaus’ CEO to advocate for a shift away from Finland’s monopoly model in favour of implementing a licensing system.

The government paper states that the existing gambling policy has proven inadequate, as gambling-related issues have become a significant problem for a portion of the Finnish population.

Furthermore, unregulated operators can generate revenue without paying licence fees and taxes.

Key measures

Key measures outlined in the reform include strengthening supervision of the gambling industry.

The government plans to allocate more funding and resources to ensure effective oversight, with a particular focus on combating money laundering.

Additionally, the relocation of gaming machines to supervised facilities will be examined, and consumers will have the option to self-exclude from all licensed services through a single platform.

Responsible marketing practices are also highlighted in the government’s reform plans, with an emphasis on channeling consumer consumption towards licensed gambling providers.

Marketing efforts will be closely regulated to prevent the promotion of harmful gambling habits, and targeting minors in gambling advertisements will be strictly prohibited.

The government has stressed the importance of moderate and responsible marketing, requiring explicit consent from individuals.

The personalised marketing of gambling without prior consent will be prohibited.

Proposals to reform the UK gambling sector have been delayed until a new leader of the Conversative Party has replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Johnson resigned on 7 July, one day after the resignation of gambling minister Chris Philp, who quit in protest at his leadership alongside dozens of dissenting Tory party MPs.

Advisers to Johnson have decided that the government’s gambling review white paper, which was scheduled to be released next week, must now be postponed until a new leader has been identified. Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are all still in the running.

Reports suggest that senior adviser David Canzini has played an influential role in the decision to delay publication. According to the Daily Mail, Canzini was the director of a firm which counted Entain-owned Ladbrokes Coral among its clients until February.

The latest postponement marks the fourth delay in publishing the white paper, which has angered both politicians and activists that are battling for reform.

There is a big tussle going on in govt right now about whether to launch the gambling white paper on Tuesday.

Gambling lobby wants a delay in the hope the new PM will water down the whole thing, so they're activating their MPs. https://t.co/3wrWSnLC7Y

— Rob Davies (@ByRobDavies) July 14, 2022

The government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act began in 2019, when then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden pledged to make gambling regulation “fit for the digital age”.

Indeed, the biggest reforms are expected to impact the online sector.

Industry newsletter Earnings+More published an exclusive this week on some of the proposals after the first draft of the white paper was leaked.

The leak revealed potential background checks on punters at net losses of £125 per month or £500 per year, as well as more detailed affordability checks for losses of £1,000 within 24 hours or for a £2,000 net loss over a 90-day period.

Online slot stakes are also expected to be capped at between £2 and £5 per spin.

Betting markets are calling Mordaunt the winner (8/13, versus 10/3 Sunak and 9/2 Truss). Extraordinary

— Robert Peston (@Peston) July 14, 2022

UK trade body the Betting and Gaming Council has said: “We welcome the government’s gambling review and we strongly support many of the measures we expect to be in the forthcoming white paper. Indeed, we have campaigned for many of them.

“On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs depend on the regulated betting and gaming industry, we will of course study the white paper when it is published, consider the impact it might have, and respond accordingly.”

The extended delay will do little to improve the share price fortunes of publicly listed UK gambling companies, including Flutter Entertainment, Entain and 888 Holdings, which have posted year-to-date stock declines of 36%, 34% and 50% respectively.

Investors have been seeking clarity regarding the limits stated in the white paper for some time now.

They are now being made to wait until September at the earliest.

Picture by Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street