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The impact of Curacao’s tightened grip on online gambling industry

Curacao agreed to Netherlands terms of tightening its grip on the iGaming industry, including stricter licensing.


The online casino industry continues to prove its resilience in the face of not only the current worldwide pandemic but also the constant ebb and flow of regulatory requirements. A vital part of the maturation of the iGaming market is a deepening realisation of the gambling responsibility for the protection and support of at-risk players.

The necessity of a give and take mindset

One of the regions to feel the pressure to take better care of those who come under the purview its licensing is Curacao E-Gaming. The regulator was "strongly advised" to review and improve its licensing program by the Netherlands. In return, the Netherlands confirmed that it would offer Curacao much needed financial aid.

While at first the "liquidity support" came with no strings attached the Dutch Government changed its mind in July, stating that in order for the support to continue Curacao would have to agree to a number of conditions or further support will be withheld. This is due to the direct impact that Curacao gambling laws have on the Dutch market.

October 2020 saw Curacao agree to the Dutch requests which include several amendments and improvements to its current laws. The Dutch government stated that the agreement with their Curacao counterparts regarding 'measures and structural reforms' lends itself to improving the financial, economic and administrative viability of both regions.

What changes lie ahead?

Among the changes suggested by the Netherlands are three key items which stand out as the most urgent and important.

Firstly, one of the stipulations in the agreement is for Curacao to form a new independent regulator who will oversee the country's gambling framework which includes the issuing of licenses to select operators. The regulatory body will be brought into force by the 1st of March 2021.

In addition to the newly minted oversight committee, all Curacao licensees are to act in accordance with the laws and regulations of the regions they target for player acquisition.

Lastly, Curacao was tasked with ensuring that its licensees fulfil their obligation in terms of taxes and operating fees to ensure the necessary cash flow is available to them, and to the regions, they are generating revenue from.

Will this make a measurable difference?

The news of tighter regulations and new regulatory bodies has led many to wonder how it will impact the industry given the vast number of online casino who hold Curacao licenses.

Right out of the gate there are several short terms changes which will impact the casinos daily operations and bottom line. These include increased pricing on master licenses, the prevention of targeting players from predetermined regions and more intensive scrutiny of their business practices.

The new master license will cost $35,000 more than it used to and existing licensees will need to follow the rules if they don't want to lose their current licenses.

While these regulatory changes could make it harder to obtain a license, especially for the first-time operators, the increased difficulty of obtaining a license will also increase its value and raise the profile of those who qualify for one.

On a regional front, the changes, while driven by the Netherlands, will not be limited to that one country. The proposed changes are expected to shake things up in Australia and Spain, as Curacao licensed operators are major players in these markets due to their current regulations.

Spain also hosts a mix of gambling operators, financial services and has deep cultural ties with Curacao which adds another layer of complexity to these sweeping changes.

Safer gambling receives a boost

One of the best new regulatory restrictions enhances safer gambling in Curacao licensed casinos by prohibiting casinos from targeting big spenders. Online casinos are no longer allowed to encourage these players to spend even more.

Curacao has a tough job ahead changing outdated regulations and implementing new changes that will tighten its grip on the industry and operators. Doing so successfully will increase the value of licenses, lead to a safe gambling environment and better gaming experience for all players.

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