Curacao Guidelines: The transformation of the Curacao iGaming scene

2 March 2024


As of 1 April 2024, Curacao has completely retired the master license and sub-licensing system, with all operators now operating under the new licensing system and all new applications being fielded through the online system under the supervision of the Curacao Gaming Control Board. But how did we get here? Why did Curacao overhaul its iGaming rules? What is the new regime like? And what do existing operators and potential new applicants have to do? Fast Offshore has all the answers.
A guide to Curacao
Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean island renowned for its beaches, is also home to a thriving iGaming sector. From the mid-90s until today, it has been host to hundreds of iGaming companies who have sought licensing under a long-established master and sub-licensing regime. But this all changed recently, and the regime has undergone significant changes to tighten rules and increase public trust while combating issues in the industry.
Curaçao’s iGaming license system has seen a significant overhaul with the introduction of the National Ordinance for Games of Chance, a departure from the previous framework governed by the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard. One key change the LOK brought about is the empowerment of the Curacao Gaming Control Board to issue direct licenses to operators.This is a big change from the previous system, where licenses were often obtained through master license holders, leading to a complex network of sub-licenses.
Why the Overhaul?
The decision to revamp Curacao's iGaming licensing regime stems from various factors:
- Global Competition: The iGaming industry is fiercely competitive, with numerous jurisdictions vying for market share. Curacao recognized the need to enhance its regulatory framework to attract reputable operators and maintain its competitiveness.
- Regulatory Compliance: With increasing scrutiny from international regulatory bodies and pressure to adhere to global standards, Curacao needed to modernize its regulations to ensure compliance and enhance its reputation as a trustworthy jurisdiction.
- Consumer Protection: Ensuring the safety and security of players is paramount in the iGaming industry. By implementing stricter regulations, Curacao aims to bolster consumer protection measures and foster a safer gaming environment for players.
Key Changes and New Rules
The overhaul of Curacao's iGaming licensing regime introduced several key changes and new rules:
- Enhanced Regulatory Oversight: The revamped regime entails increased regulatory oversight, with different and tougher requirements for license applicants. This includes background checks, financial assessments, and compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
- Stringent Compliance Standards: License holders are now required to adhere to stricter compliance standards, including responsible gaming practices, player protection measures, and data privacy regulations. Failure to comply may result in severe penalties or license revocation.
- Improved Transparency and Accountability: The new rules emphasize transparency and accountability, requiring operators to provide clear and accurate information to players regarding terms and conditions, game fairness, and dispute resolution processes.
- Streamlined Application Process: While the application process remains rigorous, efforts have been made to streamline and expedite the process for prospective license applicants. All applications are now made via an online portal.
As of November 2023, the GCB has been accepting and processing online gaming license applications from operators who wish to acquire an online gaming license directly from the GCB under a new application process. All applicants must be Curacao-incorporated entities, and no individual (or natural person) may apply via alternative legal structures.
In addition, licenses granted directly by the GCB are automatically passported to the CGA under the LOK regime. All new permit applications will be made through an online portal under the supervision of the CGA.
Those under the previous licensing regime of master and sub-licenses who wish to continue working in Curacao had to register with the GCB as of 31 March. Any master or sub-license holder who did not meet the deadline will no longer be able to operate in the jurisdiction.
Application Process
Prospective applicants seeking a Curacao iGaming license must undergo a thorough application process, which typically involves the following steps:
1. Preparation: Applicants must thoroughly review the licensing requirements and ensure they meet all eligibility criteria before proceeding with the application process. At this stage, it is preferable to engage with Fast Offshore to ensure you prepare all documents correctly and do not risk delaying or unsupring the process.
2. Submission of Application: The application process begins with the submission of a detailed application form, along with supporting documents and fees as per the regulatory guidelines.
3. Review and Assessment: Upon receiving the application, the regulatory authority conducts a comprehensive review and assessment, which may include background checks, financial evaluations, and compliance audits.
4. Compliance Verification: Applicants must demonstrate compliance with all regulatory requirements, including AML measures, responsible gaming practices, and technical standards.
5. Approval and Issuance: Upon successful completion of the review process and verification of compliance, the regulatory authority issues the iGaming license to the applicant, allowing them to legally operate within the jurisdiction of Curacao.
Benefits of Curacao iGaming License
Obtaining a Curacao iGaming license offers numerous benefits for operators, including:
- Global Recognition: A Curacao license provides global recognition and legitimacy, enhancing the operator's credibility and reputation in the iGaming industry.
- Tax Advantages: Curacao offers favorable tax regimes for iGaming operators, with competitive tax rates and incentives to attract businesses.
- Flexibility and Accessibility: The regulatory framework in Curacao offers flexibility and accessibility for operators, allowing them to launch and operate various types of online gambling services.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to some other jurisdictions, obtaining a Curacao iGaming license is relatively cost-effective, making it an attractive option for startups and small-scale operators. While the new fees are higher than before, they are still affordable to those with a mid-range budget.
- Technical Support: Curacao provides technical support and infrastructure for iGaming operators, including hosting services, payment processing solutions, and regulatory assistance.
- Business Expansion: With a Curacao license, operators can expand their business into new markets and jurisdictions, leveraging the island's reputation as a reputable iGaming hub.
To navigate the sea of changes in Curacao, simply get in touch with Fast Offshore. We have been working there since the sector started and are experienced in all matters to do with Curacao as well as iGaming licensing. We have also developed good relations with the authorities and have full visibility of the new system. Our team can guide you through the whole process from start to finish and advise you on every step. We can also help you with information on other jurisdictions should you need guidance, information, or assistance. We are here to help, drawing on our 27 years of experience. Just contact our team today.

Ron Mendelson

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based business and financial consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over two decades of experience in corporate services, iGaming, international business, finance, licensing and legal matters, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.