The Curacao gaming license is usually operators’ first choice due to its affordability and reasonable requirements. While the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for a license may seem daunting, this article will guide you through every step of the gambling license acquisition process in Curacao.
Online gambling licensing and regulation in Curacao
Curacao 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 Curacao’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.
Curacao has the longest track record of any jurisdiction in the iGaming industry. In 1993, the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard 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, Curacao makes for an ideal offshore business hub, and it has become one of the world’s most in-demand jurisdictions for licensing online gambling businesses.
In 2019, the Curacao 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 Curacao, 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). In lieu of a single framework for regulations and licensing, Curacao has a system based on different classes of license.
There are just two different kinds of license: the master license and the sub-license. The Minister of Justice has sole discretionary power to issue master licenses. Both master licenses and sub-licenses allow the holder to conduct all kinds of gambling activities, but the key difference is that master licenses also allow the holder to issue sub-licenses.
Master licenses are valid for five years at a time. The sub-licenses tied to the master license are valid indefinitely, as long as their master license remains valid. It’s worth noting that since 1996, there have only been 4 master license holders. All prospective operators interested in Curacao e-Gaming licenses apply for a sub-license from one of them — it is impossible to apply for a master license. Each master license holder has its own policies regarding issues like handling disputes between players and operators.
The four holders of master licenses in Curacao are:
Curacao is on the verge of implementing a new bill overhauling the islands' entire licensing system. The bill is going to enter into force in 2023.
Changes include creation of a new independent regulatory body, the Curacao Gaming Authority, replacing the Curacao Gaming Control Board. Instead of the previous master license / sublicense system, the new authority will issue independent B2C and B2B licenses to new gambling operators, and those who are already licensed under the previous regime will have a chance to express and register their interest in a new permission. They will be provided an 18-month transition period.
It is expected that every company applying for a new Curacao license will pay an application fee of €4,000 and a yearly license fee of €12,000, and companies will also have to appoint key employees to oversee anti-money laundering activities and responsible gambling policy.
Why should you get a gambling license in Curacao in 2023?
Financial experts claim that 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 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
First and foremost, getting licensed gives operators peace of mind that they can do business without having to worry about legal repercussions.
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.
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.
Having a license contributes to the iGaming ecosystem, fighting stigmas and helping create a fair and transparent gaming industry.
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.
There are plenty of jurisdictions with regulators that offer licensing services, but here are a few reasons why Curacao should be at the top of your short list for where to set up your business:
covers all types
in other jurisdictions
a license can be received
in approx. 6 weeks
are accepted from
0% corporate income tax,
2% tax on net gains
process than in other
How do you get a Curacao gaming license?
While Curacao’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 Curacao:
Incorporate a business in Curacao
Gather the necessary paperwork
Submit your application and pay the application fee
Wait approximately six weeks
Begin operating your online casino
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 Curacao gambling license in 2023?
In order to properly establish the credibility and eligibility of applicants, authorities require a long list of paperwork. Depending on the master license holder, the list will include (but won’t be limited to):
Original Utility Bill (not older than 3 months)
Copy of passport
Original certificate of good conduct
Original bank reference letter
Professional reference letter
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.
How much does a gambling license cost in Curacao (taxes and fees)
One of the main advantages of the Curacao online gambling license is the low cost. License fees vary, depending on the master license holder and several other factors, but they are generally lower than in other jurisdictions. In addition to the initial application fee, some of the associated costs can include the incorporation of a local company in Curacao, 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 Curacao 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 Curacao.
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.
How does the Curacao gaming license compare to Malta?
The Mediterranean island nation of Malta is another very popular jurisdiction for online casino businesses interested in getting a license. One major difference is that while a single license in Curacao covers every gambling activity under the sun, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) offers several different B2C licences.
Since regulations were restructured in 2018, it has not been necessary to complete a separate application for each license, but operators do need to pay separate license fees on each license they hold. This is a major difference between the two jurisdictions — whereas a single license in Curacao enables operators to offer all forms of gaming, MGA licensees who offer RNG games and sports betting will pay €25,000 for each license, for a total of €50,000. Offering poker costs another €25,000, and another €10,000 on top of that for fantasy sports. In comparison, the Curacao license effectively enables the holder to have four licenses for the price of one.
Application fee for any of the 4 types of B2C license
Renewal fee for any of the 4 types of license
Annual fee for type 1, 2, or 3 licenses
Annual fee for type 4 license
While operators registered in Curacao pay only a minimal tax on net gains, MGA licensees pay a compliance contribution that depends on the type of license they hold. Additionally, they must pay a 5% tax on revenues from all players who are residents of Malta.
The following table outlines the compliance contributions for Type 1 license holders.
The contribution must meet a minimum of €15,000 but is capped at €375,000.
This chart shows the compliance contributions for Type 2 license holders:
Compliance contributions for type 2 license holders must meet a minimum of €25,000 and will not exceed €600,000. Contributions for license types 3 and 4 follow a similar structure.
The combination of higher taxes and the necessary compliance contribution makes Malta a significantly more expensive jurisdiction than Curacao. For that reason, it’s a far more common choice among more experienced operators with substantial investment resources behind them. Start-ups and entrepreneurs with fewer resources are more likely to obtain a license from Curacao.
Disadvantages of getting a license in Curacao
The Curacao license comes with a small limitation regarding target markets. Depending on the master license holder, Curacao licensees are forbidden to accept players from a list of countries including the USA, France, the Netherlands, and Curacao itself. 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 Curacao 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.
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.
Curacao is one of the cheapest jurisdictions for getting an online gambling license. The total cost of a Curacao license varies depending on the master license holder issuing the license and several other factors, so it’s best to seek professional advice to find out more.
The sub-license is the only available license in Curacao. It enables the licensee to organize all types of gambling activities, including RNG-based games like slots, table games like baccarat, live dealer games, and sports betting.
Having a license grants you legitimacy in the eyes of your players, as well as enabling you to cooperate with more companies and financial institutions. Operating without a license exposes you to the possibility of fines and prison time.
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.
Slotegrator also offers Turnkey and White Label casino solutions for operators who want to take their business from 0 to 100 in no time flat. We offer casino platform software, game integration, payment system integration, and everything else you need to get a fully-functional online casino business up and running. If 2023 is the year for you to start an online casino business, Slotegrator is fully geared up to make your vision a reality.
In 2016, I graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which I focused both during and after my university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating from the university, I briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 I joined Slotegrator, where I have been working ever since and where I handle the company’s day-to-day legal matters.