Curacao Online Gambling Licensing and Regulation
Curacao is a gorgeous country with a sublime climate and while a lot of its economy comes from tourism, iGaming provides another big boost to the country's economy.
If you asked regular online casino players to name an iGaming regulatory body, most will name the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) and the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission). However, most will not know that Curacao actually has the longest track record of them all in the iGaming industry. The country legalised online gambling in 1993 and began offering iGaming licenses from 1996 onwards.
The island quickly became an attractive destination for companies interested in launching online gambling platforms. Among the reasons for this attraction were low taxes, a simple application process, and a cheaper license compared to more respected authorities. The Curacao license and its jurisdiction have since become one of the world’s most in-demand.
The Curacao Gaming Board of Control and the Ministry of Finance and Financial Intelligence enforce the license and its regulations.
Curacao has rules in place that help govern customer privacy and protection concerns. License holders must adhere to anti-fraud measures to minimize the risk of criminal activity and to keep players’ funds protected at all times. You can determine if an online gambling site has received a license from the Curacao Authority, as license holders are required to display an official license seal.
Curacao requires license holders to retain a full audit trail of all players who make deposits. These online casinos must also provide third-party auditors full access to their gaming systems and back-end systems. Licensed casinos are not permitted to accept wagers from the Netherlands Antilles.
While the licensing process is fairly straightforward, the enforcement of rules and regulations leaves a lot to be desired. The Curacao Licensing Authority does not require third-party RNG certification, there are no set timelines for payments, and there is a lack of procedures in terms of problem gambling.
As there is a general lack of protection for customers and no advertising standards concerning the realistic possibility of wins, Curacao has developed a questionable reputation. Today, many North American and European countries have prohibited online casinos that hold a Curacao license from accessing their players.
Online Gambling Licenses Available from the Government of Curacao
Once an online operator has been cleared by the Curacao Ministry of Justice, they may qualify for one of two iGaming licenses.
Issued by the Ministry of Justice, a ‘master license’ covers all types of online gaming, such as sports betting, lottery, games of skill and chance, and casinos. With a master license, online gaming sites are legally allowed to conduct eGaming activities within the Island Territory of Curacao. Master licenses are granted for a five-year term with automatic renewal. This License allows the holder to issue sub-Licenses to an infinite number of operators. A Master License is valid for five years, at which time the holder has to apply for a renewal.
It is important to point out that since 1996, just four companies have held a Master License in Curacao. As such, any operator interested in running an online casino or betting platform in Curacao must apply for a sub-License issued by one of these operators. Each Master License holder will have its own policies when it comes to player protection and complaints resolution. However, all must abide by the regulations set out by the government.
The Current Holders of a Curacao Master License:
Antillephone NV #8048/JAZ
On the face of it, the Antillephone NV £8048/JAZ looks the most popular of the four Curacao Master Licenses. At least, it licenses more online casinos and betting platforms than the others. For a start, we can tell you that BitKingz, BitStarz, Dozenspins, Slotum Casino, and Wazamba Casino all hold this License. When you click the licensing authorities seal in the pages footer of those casinos, you will see similar to the image above. It details the company holding the License while also providing information such as the restricted countries that are prohibited from playing at online casinos under this licensing.
Gaming Curacao (GC) #365/JAZ
As with Antillephone NV, you can click the seal in the footer of casinos using the Gaming Curacao Master License for more information. This will reveal the holding company and the License number. For example, platforms including Unique Casino and Africasino operate under Gaming Curacao. In particular, one rule that stands out when clicking on the seal for these casinos is that Gaming Curacao does not allow licensees to offer services to players in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, France, Netherlands, Australia, UK, Spain, Saba, Statia, St Martin, and the USA.
Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ
There doesn’t appear to be a website for the Curacao Interactive Licensing (CIL) authority. There is also no public record of platforms currently holding a CIL License. That said, quite a few online casinos we have reviewed do operate via the CIL framework. For instance, Vbet Casino functions under this License via its Randon B.V. operator. Moreover, we know Vbet is a trusted brand as it also operates under Vivaro Limited, which holds both Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) licensing.
Cyberluck Curacao N.V. (Curacao eGaming) #1668/JAZ
Cyberluck N.V. is a public limited company that owns the trademarked name ‘Curacao eGaming’ or ‘CeG’. When you click the authority’s seal in the footer of online casinos operating under this master License, such as Playamo Casino, BitCasino.io and Casinoin.io, you will see a page similar to the above image. If you scroll down, you will find further information about the authority, how to file a complaint about a platform, and how you can self-exclude yourself.
Applying for a Sub-License from One of the Above Master License Holders
To operate legally from Curacao, a registered business must contact one of the above Master Licenses and apply for a sub-License. This License alongside the Gaming Curacao above,
Another type of license an online operator may qualify for is a sub-license. This license type grants the same rights as a master license. The main difference between a master license and sub-license is that operators with a master license have the ability to issue sub-licenses to third parties. A sub-license remains indefinitely valid based on the validity of the master license.
Curacao License Requirements
Obtaining a gaming license from the Curacao Licensing Authority is usually quick and uncomplicated. This is because, unlike more reputable licensing authorities, Curacao lacks a rigorous vetting system, which means that some dodgy casino operators are receiving licenses, which results in a poor gaming experience for customers.
The Curacao Internet Gaming Association operates under the Curacao Minister of Justice. Online operators looking to obtain a license from the Curacao Licensing Authority must be established as a local entity certified by the Curacao Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Curacao Ministry of Justice also requires applicants to go through a six-week investigation process.
The process required to gain a Curacao License is easier than those required to gain most other iGaming licenses, but that does not guarantee that all businesses can get one. An operator will have to provide substantial paperwork while a single mistake could see an application refused.
The steps to get a License in Curacao are as follows:
- Incorporate and register a business in Curacao
- Gather the required paperwork (listed below)
- Complete and submit an application alongside the application fee
- Wait four to six weeks
- Start operating your online casino
Applicants may be asked to provide certain documentation that has been dated within the last 90 days. This may include:
- Certified scans of passports for all owners
- Original or certified copies of utility bills
- Original bank references for all owners
- Descriptions of all gaming software used and games offered
- Geographic or target market
- Confirmation of random number generator (RNG) application and third-party certification
- A signed declaration from all owners stating that the site offers information about gambling problems and addition
- Proof that minors are denied access to online gaming
- Details about the transaction database
- Three-year financial feasibility study
Before it approves an application, the Master License holder will send a technical compliance team to review your online casino website. Your website does not need to be fully ready to go, but it must at least be in the final stages. If your platform is not at the required stage, this could cause a rejection.
Advantages of a Curacao License
There are many benefits of choosing a Curacao License for an operator. That includes the cost which is much lower than most other jurisdictions. The total cost for obtaining a gambling license from the Curacao Licensing Authority is approximately $34,000.
- Covers all types of licensing
- Cheaper than most other jurisdictions
- Quicker application process than most
- Can accept cryptocurrencies for deposits and withdrawals
- Low taxes of 0% corporate income tax and 2% on net gains
Disadvantages of a Curacao License
- Lower standards than other regulatory authorities (although improving)
- The Master License holding companies and not the Gaming Commission audit sub Licenses
- Does not have the reputation among players that the MGA and UKGC have
- Closed to many of the biggest iGaming markets
Whenever you play for real money at an online casino, it is crucial that you choose a gambling site that is licensed by a reputable gambling jurisdiction.
Due to the relatively poor reputation of the Curacao Licensing Authority, it is important to use caution when playing at online casinos that have a license from this jurisdiction. While the Government of Curacao promises to make changes to improve the supervision of online casinos in the jurisdiction, this has yet to be seen.