Curacao Gaming Control Board Plans New E-Gaming Licensing Policy
The Curacao Gaming Control Board (CGCB) plans stricter oversight of its online gambling licenses in 2019, according to a report in Antilliaans Dagblad, a local Dutch-language media outlet. Previously, the Ministry of Justice oversaw Curacao’s online gambling license holders.
The CGCB is a part of the Ministry of Finance, which regulates the land-based gaming operations in the island nation. Curacao’s officials decided a single regulator for all gaming made sense.
In that circumstance, a department known for financial oversight made more than a law enforcement entity.
In the Antilliaans Dagblad piece, Kenneth Gijsbertha, Curacao’s Minister of Finance, said the decision provides a “uniform regulator of games of chance” for all gaming in the country. The official noted the combined regulator would oversee “all games of chance offered on or from Curacao.”
Curacao: Kingdom of Netherlands
From 1954 to 2010, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba were part of the Netherlands Antilles. Along with the Netherlands itself, all three have been “constituent countries” under the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
As a constituent state, Curacao holds administrative jurisdiction over the island and has a regional government. In short, Curacao remains a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but has widespread local autonomy. That extends to online and land-based gaming regulation.
Dutch MPs Complain about Gaming Oversight
Back in the home country, Dutch legislators long have complained that Curacao’s officials have licensed gaming sites which accept Dutch players without the approval of gaming regulators in the Netherlands. Kenneth Gijsbertha said the actions of some online gaming sites licensed in Curacao “seriously detracts from the international image of Curacao.”
As the head of the government department charged with oversight, Kenneth Gijbertha said he would take measures to sanction or eliminate “illegal providers.” The Finance Minister said such companies pose “a threat to society”, because they encourage problem gambling with little to no oversight.
Ronald Van Raak Criticizes Curacao Licensing
Dutch MP Ronald Van Raak has been a steady critic of the Curacao licensing system. Recently, Van Raak told the Curacao Chronicle that the government’s lax licensing system “does not yield anything for ordinary people on Curaçao, but it does pose a threat to the political stability of the island.”
Van Raak said the “multibillion” dollar online gambling industry is out of control, at least when it is licensed by small islands in the Caribbean. The Dutch member of parliament praised Kenneth Gijbertha’s recent announcements.
Gijbertha, the man who will be overseeing the CGCB, said the rogue online gambling sites “do not contribute to the coffers” of his government, but instead “constitute unfair competition to legally operating providers”. One might think Curacao collects fees and taxes from licensing online casinos and poker sites, but the “e-Gaming sub-license” system has come under fire.
Curacao’s e-Gaming Sub-License
Under the current system in Curacao, the e-Gaming sub-license allows licensees to gain an online gambling license with a small fee, relatively little oversight, and no taxes collected. A company called Fast Track offers online casino operators the “Fast-Track Online Gambling Licensing Program“, which claims to provide a license to applicants within 48 hours.
Of course, online gambling licensing has been a key source of income for a government which governs a population of 160,000 people. Curacao’s government oversees what would be a population the size of a mid-sized city in the United States, so gaming receipts did not have to be large to make a noticeable impact on the budget.
Curacao’s Gaming Control Board
Curacao’s officials knew if they increased taxes too high or provided rigid oversight of the gaming sub-licenses, those operators would find another small country somewhere around the globe to license their casino sites. Antigua and Barbuda once was a leader in the e-gaming industry, but the United States sought sanctions against Antigua that cripped its online gambling industry.
Many of those license holders moved to Curacao. In the past 10 years, Curacao became a top licensing agency, especially for companies which served the US unregulated online casino and poker industries. Over the years, the lax licensing process became known to operators around the globe.
It caused problems, such as when the dozen or so Revenue Jet and Affactive Media online casinos claimed they had licensing from Curacao. In one case, CasinoMeister called Curacao’s minister of finance to verify one of the company’s casinos was licensed by the island, only to learn the regulators had never heard of such an operator. Still, claiming a license from Curacao was plausible, which is why the rogues from Revenue Jet/Affactive Media chose Curacao as its licensing authority.
What Happens to Curacao’s Gaming Sites?
If Kenneth Gijsbertha’s new stated policy takes effect, one can expect to see fewer online gambling licenses from Curacao. Those license holders might move their business to Panama or Costa Rica, which have become hubs of licensing in recent years.
At What Price, Honor?
While the new policies might cause some operators to change their policies and it certainly could help Curacao’s reputation back on the continent of Europe, it probably will not bring more money to Curacao’s coffers. If anything, the constituent country will generate less cash from online gambling.