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January 8, 2024
During the last weeks of 2023 the government issued various publications and substantial progress was made in the legislative overhaul of the gaming regulations in Curaçao.
EM Group puts it all together for you in this newsletter, together with a proposed schedule of action for existing and new operators in Curaçao. The most important deadline to remember is 31 March 2024, by which date all transitioning operators that currently operate on the basis of a sublicense, must have submitted their license application to the GCB.
The minister of finance announced on 19 December 2023, that the eagerly awaited National Ordinance for Games of Chance (in Dutch: “Landsverordening op de kansspelen” abbreviated to LOK) was officially submitted to Parliament.
The next step is the attendance of the draft of the LOK in the so-called Central Commission of parliament. The final step will be the actual vote on the law in parliament which we expect to take place before Ice London in February.
This does not mean that the LOK will be enacted in February. The government has elected to choose a date of enactment in summer in order to create a transition period from the old to the new regime and to allow as many as possible of currently Curaçao based operators to transition into the new system in a smooth manner.
In a letter issued by the Minister of Finance on 15 December 2023, further explanation was given to the transitional process that the government now envisages. The government is committed to minimizing disruption of operations in the transition and therefore will grant current sublicense holders a limited timeframe to convert their contractual arrangements with existing master license holders into standalone licenses issued by the government. In order to qualify for this transition, operators need to register their current sublicense arrangement and apply for the government issued license before March 31st 2024. In the letter, there is also mention of an upcoming policy that will be formulated for transfer of player data, as it will be required for each operator to own its player data.
It is important to mention that these transition license applications will take place under current legislation (National Ordinance On Games of Hazard: NOOGH) and that licenses issued will be transitioned to provisional licenses under LOK once it is enacted. The same will apply to some license applications, which will not yet have been processed by GCB before the enactment of LOK, such as supplier licenses (which do not exist under NOOGH, but will exist under LOK). Again: it is very important that all companies that currently have a sublicense apply for the government license before the end of March 31, 2024. If they do not apply for the license within the mentioned time frame, they will lose the sublicense at the day of enactment of LOK and be no longer permitted to offer their gambling services out of Curaçao.
The Curaçao Gaming Control Board (“GCB”), which will be renamed into “Curaçao Gaming Authority” (“CGA”) after enactment of the LOK, is charged with the implementation of the license application process. To that effect, the GCB has opened its registration and application portal mid-November 2023. As a master user on this portal, EM Group will be taking care of the registration and license application process for all of its clients.
EM Group is currently approaching all of its Curaçao clients to make arrangements for the registration and application process. There are several steps in the process that need to be completed and there is a substantial amount of information and number of documents that need to be collected. EM Group will make sure that all of this is being handled in a safe and efficient manner and will be in constant and direct contact with its clients and with GCB.
Other Curaçao based operators and prospective clients that want to start up their operation in Curaçao and that wish to use the excellent services of EM Group are invited to contact EM Group’s Curaçao based commercial director Arran McCarthy at [email protected].
One of the current master license holders in Curaçao, Antillephone N.V. has demanded that its sublicense clients register their sublicense at the GCB portal before the end of January 2024 and pay their renewal fee before the same date. EM Group will make sure to meet this dead line for its current clients.
The GCB has renewed all current online game of chance licenses, of which the first will expire in August 2024 and the last one in January 2025. Irrespective of the date of entry into force of the LOK, the GCB will no longer renew the current online games of chance licenses on the same terms and conditions as currently apply. Up until the license of a current license holder expires, or the LOK enters into force, whichever is the sooner, such license holder is permitted to let third parties provide B2C online games of chance under their license as a so-called sublicense. This implies that at the day of enactment of the LOK, all master license/sublicense arrangements under current legislation will cease to exist.
As from January 1st, 2024, upon obtaining a license from the GCB, a license holder is allowed to use a Digital Seal on their website issued by the GCB pursuant to a Digital Seal Policy of the GCB. In addition, the GCB has the discretion to permit registered applicants who have submitted a license application for a direct license under the current law to display a Digital Sea! of the GCB on their website pending their application being determined. Such Digital Seal may only be used by the applicant when the GCB has performed its initial due diligence on the applicant to a satisfactory degree, as stated in the Digital Seal Policy of the GCB. Current license holders under the existing regime are responsible for actively monitoring their sublicensees to ensure they do not display the Digital Seal without authorization. The GCB will take enforcement measures against license holders found to be in violation of this policy.
|01 January 2024
|Digital Seal of GCB becomes available
|31 January 2024
|Antillephone deadline for registration on GCB portal
|01 February 2024
|(Expected) passage of LOK through parliamentary stage
|31 March 2024
|Cutoff date to apply for a GCB license for sublicensees
|01 July 2024
|(Expected) enactment of LOK
The government issued a memo with its own list of critical milestones, which can be found here.
If you have any questions about the transition process, the new LOK or any other Curaçao and iGaming related matter, please contact your account manager at EM Group or:
Arran McCarthy, commercial director at EM Group
George Bergmann, managing director at EM Group
Written by George Bergmann
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