How to get a gaming license in Curacao 2024
The Curaçao gaming license has long been a top choice for new online casino and sportsbook operators, but the licensing system is undergoing a major overhaul. This article will take a close look at the license acquisition process in one of iGaming’s most well-known jurisdictions.
Online gambling licensing and regulation in Curaçao
Curaçao is a Caribbean island and a constituent country in the kingdom of the Netherlands. Businesses in industries such as shipping, oil refining, and international trade and finance have already seen the value of Curaçao’s warm, inviting climate and tropical lifestyle. Tourism and other services — including e-commerce like iGaming — account for the vast majority of the country’s economy.
Curaçao has the longest track record of any jurisdiction in the iGaming industry. In 1993, the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard (NOOGH) came into effect, legalizing online gambling, and in 1996, authorities began to issue licenses.
Online gambling quickly joined the ranks of international industries that saw the island as a perfect place to set up shop — with its modern infrastructure and business-friendly tax rates, Curaçao makes for an ideal offshore business hub, and it quickly became one of the world’s most in-demand jurisdictions for licensing online gambling businesses.
In 2019, the Curaçao Gaming Control Board was made the AML-CFT (anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism) supervisor for all gaming activities conducted in or from Curaçao, including online gambling. Additionally, online gambling is regulated by the Ministry of Finance and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), formerly known as the Meldpunt Ongebruikelijke Transacties (translated into English as the Unusual Transactions Reporting Center).
Gambling regulations in Curaçao are going through a transitional period.
Although the existing system is operational during the transition period, licenses under the master license regime are very limited for new applicants, and it is essential to underscore its potential for change anytime as new legislation is being formulated. New regulations, known as the National Ordinance for Games of Chance (LoK), are scheduled to come into effect from September 2024.
According to the revamped regulations, there will be a new regulator — The Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA) — which will replace the Curaçao Gaming Control Board and issue licenses, according to a new, standardized schedule of fees. As of 15 November 2023, operators can apply for a new license under the current legislation directly through the GCB’s website: portal.gamingcontrolCuraçao.org. Sublicensees under the old system can also register through the portal.
Among other requirements, licensees will have to have a director and 3 permanent employees working on the island. They will also have to undergo enhanced anti-money laundering monitoring. The annual fee for the licence should be ANG 120,000 (approx €62,500).
However, the prevailing circumstance in Curaçao is characterized by unpredictability. Moreover, the current lack of comprehensive information has potentially dissuaded widespread applications for licenses under the new system. As a result, the regulatory landscape in Curaçao remains volatile, with potential transformations anticipated in light of impending legislative revisions.
Existing sublicensees have no need to worry. They’re expected to be grandfathered into the new system and given a 12-month transitional license, during which time they can get up to speed with the new regulations.
Follow the most recent updates in the Industry news section.
Why should you get a gambling license in Curaçao?
The iGaming industry is not just big, but growing — every year statistics show revenues climbing, inspiring widespread confidence that profits will remain healthy well into the foreseeable future — despite potential hurdles like pandemics and economic instability. As a form of entertainment that has long enjoyed unflagging demand, online casinos and sportsbooks will always provide a worthwhile investment opportunity.
Benefits of having a gaming license
- Security First and foremost, getting licensed gives operators peace of mind that they can do business without having to worry about legal repercussions.
- Finance Having a license enables you to open a merchant account — most financial institutions won’t let an online casino business open an account without a license.
- Credibility Due to the vetting process that operators have to go through, having a license grants the casino a significant amount of legitimacy in players’ eyes.
- Reputation Having a license contributes to the iGaming ecosystem, fighting stigmas and helping create a fair and transparent gaming industry.
- Cooperation Having a license makes your casino more appealing for software and payment service providers, many of whom refuse to cooperate with operators who are unlicensed.
How do you get a Curaçao gaming license?
While Curaçao’s licensing process is easier than that of many other jurisdictions, that doesn’t make it foolproof. There are highly detailed requirements that have to be satisfied, and even the tiniest mistake could snowball into a massive waste of time and effort. Here are the steps for getting licensed in Curaçao:
- Incorporate a business in Curaçao
- Gather the necessary paperwork
- Submit your application and pay the application fee
- Wait for the processing period
- Upon receiving your license, begin operating your online casino
Under the old system, the processing period was often 6 weeks or less. The processing period under the upcoming regime has yet to be specified.
Before the approved license is finally issued, the master license holder’s technical compliance team will review the site. This means that the domain name, server, and platform don’t necessarily need to be finalized at the time of application, but they must be ready to go before the license is issued.
What do you need to apply for a Curaçao gambling license in 2024?
In order to properly establish the credibility and eligibility of applicants, authorities require a long list of paperwork. Under the current (Master License) regime, the list of required documents can include (but not necessarily be limited to:
- Original Utility Bill (not older than 3 months)
- Copy of passport
- Resume (CV)
- Original certificate of good conduct
- Original bank reference letter
- Professional reference letter
- Second ID
Primarily, applicants must download and complete three forms from the Curaçao Gaming Control Board application portal — the Online Gaming Application Form, the Business and Corporate Information Form, and the Personal History Disclosure Form.
Furthermore, applicants will have to provide supplementary documentation. The list of required documents will include (but possibly not be limited to) originals or true copies of the following documents:
- Birth certificate
- Passport or other state-issued ID
- Recent police conduct or conviction sheet
- Any other gaming licenses
- Bank reference or bank statement
- Utility bill or bank statement verifying residential address
- Letter of appointment/engagement as Key Person
- Declaration and evidence of source of funds
Note that this is a basic list of documents, which could be subject to expansion or other changes in the future. Notary certification, translation of certificates, and other supplementary documents may also be requested.
It’s necessary for applicants to assemble and review all of the required documents before submitting their application. This is where most failed applicants go wrong — depending on the master license holder, even a small mistake on the highly complicated paperwork could result in a rejection.
We offer consultancy services and complete package solutions for gambling license acquisition that include:
- Gambling jurisdiction and business advisory
- Gambling business corporate structure incorporation
- Opening payment accounts
- Gambling license application
How much does a gambling license cost in Curaçao (taxes and fees)
Under the old system, the total cost is ANG 120,000, with an annual fee of ANG 36,000 paid on initial application and a monthly cost of ANG 7,000. Under the new regime, there will be an ANG 48,000 annual fee and a monthly fee of ANG 4,000. There are also due diligence fees of between ANG 250 and ANG 500 per person.
In addition to the initial application fee, some of the associated costs can include the incorporation of a local company in Curaçao, the first year’s local representative fees, legal office fees, and domiciliation and administration fees, as well local ISP service for compliance backups.
Another reason Curaçao is such an attractive jurisdiction for online casino operators is the incredibly low taxes. Whereas other jurisdictions will assemble a long list of different taxes and fees that operators are required to pay, the 2% net gains tax and the application and renewal fees are the entirety of operator’s financial obligations in Curaçao.
The final cost of the license can vary and depends on a variety of factors. There are a number of services who guide operators through the licensing process, and it’s often recommended that operators engage expert help to find the pricing scheme that works for them.
Disadvantages of getting a license in Curaçao
Curaçao licensees will be forbidden to accept players from an as-of-yet undisclosed list of countries. If a licensee allows players from any of those four territories to gamble on their site, they run the risk of having their license revoked.
However, the Curaçao license remains a highly popular and sought-after license. It grants a casino legitimacy in the eyes of the players and allows the operator to open the appropriate bank account.
What happens if you operate without a license?
The consequences of skipping the license can’t be overstated. Trying to run an online casino business without the proper licensing exposes operators to a number of complicated and serious problems.
- Many game developers and software providers are unwilling to cooperate with unlicensed operators, meaning that choices will be limited and your unlicensed casino won’t be able to offer a full range of high-quality gaming products.
- Unlicensed casinos can quickly develop a bad reputation among players — and once you have a bad reputation, it is very hard to get rid of. Players are very quick to take to forums and discuss casinos they find to be disreputable.
- Unlicensed casinos can be subject to heavy fines, especially if they are registered in a jurisdiction that regulates gambling.
- The casino could get shut down by the authorities if it does not comply with the regulations of the jurisdiction where the company is based.
- There’s even a chance that operators’ representatives could spend time in prison. For example, in the UK, offering gambling activities without a license is punishable by a fine or up to 51 weeks behind bars. Similarly, in Germany, offering gambling activities without a license can be punished by a fine or up to two years in prison, and unlicensed operators are also exposed to charges of tax evasion. In Russia, fines range from RUB 800,000 to RUB 1,500,000 and prison terms can be as long as two years.
Some operators decide that the costs of licensing and taxes are too high and try to save money by going without. However, while this may save money in the short term, the costs of the consequences are far higher than fees and taxes. In short, online casino licenses may present a significant up-front cost, but the financial effects of fines and prison time will outweigh them in the long run.
Curaçao Gambling License FAQs
Aside from getting the license, what else do you need to do?
The license is critical, but it won’t do you much good without a quality online gambling platform. Here are a few steps to follow in order to make sure you can offer players the experience they’re looking for.
1. Set up a branded platform
With our customizable online casino platform, you get everything you need to dive straight in to the online casino industry. With its bespoke design, client management systems, and marketing tools, our Turnkey Solution will kickstart your business in only 1-3 months.
2. Fill your casino with games
Once your casino is ready, fill it with quality gaming products. Slapping together a slipshod online slot hall might work well for a few weeks, but if you want the kind of long-term players that make up the bulk of many casinos’ business, you need to offer them something they value as much as you value their money. Stack your casino with amazing games from the world’s top developers.
3. Add a sportsbook
Filling your portfolio with fantastic slots, exciting live dealer games, and classic table games like blackjack is unquestionably a smart move, but there’s no need to stick exclusivelyto casino games. Sports betting will never go out of style, and offering a range of disciplines and events to bet on, as well as comprehensive data feeds, will open your platform up to a whole world of passionate bettors.
4. Make sure you can accept deposits and process payouts
It’s also critical that your players can pay their way around your platform. It’s safe to assume you’re looking at an international client base, so you’ll need to accept payments in a variety of currencies, including ever-more-popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
5. Get to work on marketing
Focus on marketing — special promotions, real-time marketing, and bonus offers are all great ways to start drawing in new players. One way that many online casino businesses bring in a steady stream of players is by joining an affiliate program. Affiliates like streamers and bloggers are a great source of traffic.
*Already included in our Turnkey solution, and can also be integrated as standalone modules into third-party software.
How can Slotegrator help you get a Curacao gambling license?
It is very, very common for first-time operators to make mistakes on their application. This is hardly surprising, considering the mountain of paperwork they have to assemble and complete. Depending on the holder of the master license, even a small error or omission could result in a rejected application, flushing all the would-be operator’s hard work (not to mention time and money) down the drain.
Some master license holders require operators to wait an entire year before resubmitting their application, and while a previous rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the second attempt is doomed, it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the operator.
It’s very common (and recommended) for operators to outsource the complicated process of applying for a license. Putting the process in the hands of experienced professionals saves you huge amounts of time and effort, as well as drastically reducing the chance of a minor slip-up washing away all their hard work.
You can outsource the hassle of applying for a gambling license by taking advantage of Slotegrator’s jurisdictional and legal advisory services. We’ll handle the heavy lifting — you can leave your paperwork with us, kick back, and relax. Instead of stressing, turn your attention to legitimate business concerns like marketing efforts to attract players. While you’re busy getting ready for launch, we’ll be going over your paperwork with a fine-toothed comb before our agent on the ground in Curacao submits your application.