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Curacao Gambling License

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Curacao gaming license – general overview

Curacao operates as an integral country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, maintaining a civil law system heavily influenced by Dutch laws and standards. Its online gambling license, compliant with national laws, is a popular choice for startups due to its accessible regulatory thresholds and cost-efficiency.

However, it's essential to stay updated with imminent regulatory shifts. Curacao's government is currently revising its gambling laws, encompassing online gaming, to meet global standards and combat unauthorized gambling activities. This revision entails the creation of the Curacao Gaming Authority, an independent supervisory entity, and an overhaul of existing licensing classifications. These updated rules are anticipated to be enacted by the conclusion of 2023 or in 2024.

Curacao gambling license – history, current state and anticipated changes

Curacao online gambling license – how it was recently?

Prior to the commencement of the regulatory changes, licensing framework In Curacao was designed as follows.

Curacao gambling licenses came in two forms: the master license and the sub-license. Holders of the master license have the authority to both offer a broad range of gambling services and bestow sub-licenses to others private companies. The license issuance is governed by the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (Landsverordening buitengaatse hazardspelen, P.B. 1993, no. 63) (NOOGH). The sub-license allowed its holders to engage in a comprehensive suite of gambling activities, encompassing sports betting, slot machines, table games, and RNG-centric games. Its validity extends as long as the linked master license remains valid.

There were, and currently are, four master license holders, who, since 1996, have received the government's authorization to grant licenses:

While all Curacao sublicenses are similar, the business implications are consistent regardless of your choice. Each of these master licensing entities maintains distinct policies, specific regulations, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) norms, and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures during application assessments.

One licensing authority might necessitate additional paperwork and a virtual interview, while another could grant approval with just the conventional set of documents.

In addition, price of license obtaining can vary significantly between different master licensors.

The current state of Curacao's online gambling license

It shall be stressed out that Curacao online gambling license regulation is in the process of transition now.

The Curaçao government is actively working towards a comprehensive overhaul and update of its (online) gambling regulations, with a forthcoming law titled the National Gambling Ordinance (LOK). As this new legislation awaits implementation, the Minister of Finance of Curaçao has opted to continue granting licenses under the existing framework, known as the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH). This move by the Minister of Finance aims to establish a transitional structure, facilitating a seamless shift from the current legislation to the updated one.

However, one significant change in compare to the previous framework that the online gambling license under the existing framework can be issued directly by Curacao Gambling Control Board (GCB) and not by four master licenses as it was before. As of November 15, 2023, the GCB shall be accepting and processing online gaming license applications from operators that wish to acquire an online gaming license directly from GCB.

It is important to mention that once new licensing regime under LOK comes into effect, operators which hold license directly from GCB will be automatically transitioned to the new license

What about existing licenses issued by the four master licenses prior to the changes? The operators operating under existing master licenses may continue their operations as is. However, they might need to complete the registration process with the GCB in order to keep existing sub-license effective and the GCB shall issue clarification on the process soon.

In formal terms, four master licenses can continue to issue sub-licenses during this transition period that is effective until the enactment of new gambling legislation.

To sum up, as of the Autumn 2023, there two options of obtaining online gambling license in Curacao:

Contact Inteliumlaw in order to receive the most up-to-date information on this matter and check available options.

Future of Curacao egaming license

The pivotal element of the regulatory overhaul is the National Gambling Ordinance, known as LOK. This has been presented to the country's Advisory Council and is now progressing to Parliament for review. The aim of the LOK Gaming License is to supplant the prevailing structure of primary and sub-licenses. In the current system, only four main licensees possess the power to award sub-licenses to operators.

While the LOK encompasses regulations for all gambling activities in Curacao, the government's primary attention will be on online gaming. To establish a continuous and stable regulatory framework, the LOK mandates the creation of the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA), a self-governing regulatory entity. The CGA's responsibility extends beyond just deterrence; it also includes addressing and reducing any illicit or undesirable activities related to gambling.

Benefits of gaming Curacao license

Please kindly note that the below benefits are linked to the existing licensing regime.

Drawbacks of Curacao online gaming license

The Curacao gambling license is often chosen for its cost-effectiveness and streamlined application process. However, it does come with certain drawbacks. Here's a list:

Establishing a New Gambling Business in Curacao: A Step-by-Step Guide

Regardless of whether you plan to move on with obtaining the license with GCB of one of the master licensors, the process in general includes the following steps.

1. Initial pre-check of the project applying for the license

On this stage, our company in cooperation with the regulator (either master licensor or GCB) will perform initial pre-check of the information about the future online gambling projects and its owners. We must ensure that the client has good reputation, was not involved in the illegal activity and possess transparent source of funds and wealth in order to run gambling business.

Timeline: up to 1 week.

2. Incorporation of a company in Curacao

For those eyeing a Curacao gaming license, the further step is to establish a legal entity within this jurisdiction. The optimal type of legal entity for such a license hinge on several criteria including operational scale, governance framework, protection against liability, tax implications, and regulatory mandates.

The company can be either the Public Limited Liability Company (N.V.) or the Private Limited Liability Company (B.V.).

Some important requirements about Curacao company that need to be considered:

Timeline: up to 2 weeks.

3. License obtaining

Once you have registered Curacao company, license application can be submitted.

Once you establish a company in Curacao, the licensing process can span from 2 to 6 weeks, assuming you've presented a comprehensive application with all necessary documents. The objective of the application procedure goes beyond just reviewing the submitted information and materials. It's vital for the authorities to discern if applicants truly grasp the essence of responsible gaming and are genuinely committed to safeguarding players in accordance with the relevant laws. Although the process is more streamlined compared to other places, understanding the specific regulations can still be intricate. Hence, it's wise to engage professional guidance throughout the application journey, including the company formation phase. Our skilled legal experts stand ready to offer tailored advice and assistance.

Timeline: up to 6 weeks

4. Incorporation a Cyprus payment agent company

For Curacao online gambling companies, establishing a payment agent company in Cyprus can be a strategic move.

Why is it even necessary to establish additional company in the structure?

Over time, offshore companies in Curacao have faced challenges in accepting online payments due to increased regulatory oversight and their classification as 'high risk'. The capacity of any operation to accept payments is restricted in certain jurisdictions. Many payment service providers halt card transactions from regions demanding a local license. Since you must process payments on your site for users to access services, having a payment processing agent is crucial. This agent is a vital part of the structure, facilitating payments for the online gaming platform and charging a fee for tax compliance. An optimal jurisdiction for incorporating a processing agent should have a low tax rate and access to multiple credit-card payment providers. With Curacao entities finding it increasingly challenging to secure bank or merchant accounts in Europe, a structure that includes the Curacao company (licensed for online gaming) and a payment processing agent (ideally an EU-Cyprus company) is a robust solution for seamless operations.

It not only streamlines payment processes but also enhances the company's reputation in the eyes of partners and players.

Timeline: up to 3 weeks (the process can be started after incorporation of the Curacao company).

5. Opening bank/EMI accounts

Once you have a licensed Curacao company with Cyprus payment agent, you can apply for opening accounts with banks or electronic money institutions.

Timeline: up to 3 weeks for each account.

Curacao gambling license cost

Acquiring a gambling license in Curacao is often seen as a cost-effective option when compared to some other jurisdictions.

In general, you will need at least EUR 17,000 as the minimum amount in order to commence the licensing procedure. At that, upon issuance of the license, you will have to separately pay the license fee directly to the issuing entity.

It should be stressed that the pricing for the particular client depends on the specific circumstances.

If you want to receive a fee quote tailored to your particular case, please contact us and we will schedule a call to discuss your needs and prepare a detailed offer!

What reasons can lead to the rejection of license application of Curacao casino license?

Several factors can lead to the rejection of an application for a Curacao gambling license. These include:

FAQ

Is it possible to operate online gambling business at all?

Operating an online gambling business without a proper gambling license is illegal in most jurisdictions. Doing so can lead to severe legal consequences, including criminal charges, fines, and the seizure of assets. Additionally, operating without a license undermines the credibility and trustworthiness of the business, making it difficult to establish partnerships with software providers, payment processors, and advertisers.

Players are also unlikely to trust an unlicensed platform, leading to low patronage.

Moreover, unlicensed operations can face difficulties in banking and financial transactions. Many banks and financial institutions do not process transactions for unlicensed gambling activities due to regulatory and compliance risks. It's important to obtain the necessary licenses from the relevant authorities before starting an online gambling business. Licensing not only ensures legal compliance but also establishes the legitimacy of the business, promoting trust among players and stakeholders.

What is Curacao gaming license?

A Curacao online gambling license is a permit issued by the Government of Curacao (or entities authorized by the Government of Curacao) that allows businesses to legally operate online gambling platforms. It's one of the most popular licenses due to its cost-effectiveness and relatively straightforward application process.

Why is Curacao a popular jurisdiction for online gambling licenses?

Curacao is popular due to its favorable tax laws, political stability, and established reputation in the online gaming industry. The licensing process is also faster and less rigorous compared to other jurisdictions.

Is it possible to receive Curacao gambling license without a local Curacao company?

No, it is not possible to receive a Curacao online gambling license without having a local Curacao company. One of the fundamental requirements for obtaining a Curacao gambling license is the incorporation of a company within Curacao. This means that applicants must establish a legal entity in Curacao as part of the licensing process. The requirement to have a local company is in place to ensure that the licensed operations are subject to Curacao's legal and regulatory framework. This local presence also facilitates regulatory oversight, tax compliance, and adherence to anti-money laundering (AML) and other relevant laws. Therefore, any entity seeking to obtain an online gambling license from Curacao must first meet the requirement of incorporating a company in Curacao.

What types of online gambling activities are covered by the Curacao license?

The Curacao gambling license covers a wide range of online gambling activities including online casinos, sports betting, lottery, bingo, and eSports.

How exactly does the Curacao gambling license function?

Curacao online gambling license functions as an offshore license – with it, you will be able to operate worldwide, except for the markets restricted by Curacao license itself and market which are regulated on the local level.

Is the licensing process time-consuming?

To some extent – yes. It is realistic to complete the whole process within 2 months, however the process might be delayed due to different factors (such as choice of master licensor, quality of the project and application, number of shareholders etc.). Of course, you should not believe service providers who promise to have the license ready within just a few weeks.

Is it possible to secure a license without having a bank account?

You can receive Curacao gambling license without having a bank account; however, you will need this for your further operations as a gambling operator.

Are there any restrictions on where a Curacao licensed operator can offer their services?

While a Curacao license allows for global operation, license holders are not permitted to offer services to countries that (i) directly prohibited by Curacao license conditions (such as USA, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Dutch West Indies, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, Statia, Dutch St Martin and Curacao) or (ii) have strict regulations against online gambling or have their own licensing regimes.

What amount of initial share capital is required for a company to be eligible for a gambling license in Curacao?

There is no stipulated minimum capital requirement in Curacao for companies applying for a gambling license. Nonetheless, possessing adequate financial resources to effectively manage the proposed gambling activities is crucial for fulfilling the licensing conditions

What is the typical duration of a gambling license in Curacao?

In general, Curacao online gambling license has a duration of 1 year. Upon expiration of this term, the license is subject to annual renewal.

Currently, effective licenses from any one of the four master licensors are effective until their own master licenses are in force – presumably, until the enactment of new legislation.

Can individuals who are not residents of Curacao own gambling companies in the region?

Yes, anyone can own Curacao gambling company, except for sanctioned individuals or individual with questionable personal background/origin.

What tax obligations does a Curacao company with a gambling license have?

Some time ago, Curacao has shifted from to the territorial system of taxation where only local income is taxed. Under this system, a part of Curacao company's profit to be taxed at 22% tax rate shall be calculated based on the ratio between local direct cost and foreign cost. Considering that most probably Curacao online gambling operators will have a little of local cost (like annual license fees) and only foreign income – the effective tax rate will be as low as possible.

What is the cost of obtaining and maintaining a Curacao gambling license?

You will need at least EUR 17,000 as the minimum amount in order to commence the licensing procedure. At that, upon issuance of the license, you will have to separately pay the license fee directly to the issuing entity. As to the maintenance cost, it will depend on many factors. 

Please contact us in order to receive a tailored offer with all prices.

What is the annual license fee for a gambling company in Curacao?

In case you plan to receive license from one of the master license holders, it would cost from EUR 10,000 to EUR 13,200.

If you plan to go on directly with Curacao Gaming Control Board, then the price would be much higher – up to EUR 50,000 annually.

Of course, except for cost the license, you need to consider other expenses.

Can online gambling operator with a Curacao gaming license receive bets in crypto?

Yes, an online gambling operator with a Curacao online gambling license can receive bets in cryptocurrency. Curacao is known for its progressive stance on digital currencies, and its licensing framework allows for the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in online gambling operations. However, operators are expected to adhere to all applicable laws, including anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations.

Why does licensed Curacao online gambling business need Cyprus payment agent company in the structure?

The use of a Cyprus payment agent company in the structure of a licensed Curacao online gambling business is not a mandatory requirement. However, many online gambling operators choose to include such entities in their business structure for several strategic reasons such as access to the payment processing infrastructure, establishing normal relationships with banks and tax optimization.

Can a Curacao licensed gambling site be considered safe and fair?

While Curacao licensed sites are required to meet certain standards, the level of regulatory oversight is generally considered less stringent than some other jurisdictions. Players should conduct due diligence and read reviews before engaging with any online gambling site.

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