Procedure for obtaining gaming-license in Curacao
General provisions about licensing in Curacao
Online gaming is considered as a legitimate commercial activity within the Netherlands Antilles, particularly Curacao being one of the most respected jurisdictions for regulation and issuance of gambling permits. Being established under the Ministry of Justice, The Curacao Internet Gaming organization acts as an intermediary between the government and the licensed E-gaming businesses, while ensuring the e-gambling operators follow the established license requirements and code of conducts.
The Curacao e-gaming licensing authority, on the other hand, is in charge of guaranteeing that its licensees work within the scope of the guidelines established by the Government of Netherlands Antilles and ensures that they follow the standards of client service.
One universal license covers all the type of gambling activities, such as:
- online casino games (roulette, blackjack, slots);
- sports betting peer to peer games (poker, backgammon, mah-jong);
- mobile phone games, betting;
- live dealing;
- fantasy football;
- pari-mutuel and pool betting;
- network gaming;
- lotteries and trivia.
Master license and sublicense
There are two ways of obtaining gambling license: either directly from the Curacao department of Justice or through acquiring a sub-license from a master license holder. Hence, two forms of license are available for issuance: Master license and sub-license. Master license authorizes the companies to work in gaming industry and makes it available to sub-license to third parties. While the holders of sub-licences under the master license can enjoy the same rights to carry out legitimate business activities, but are not in a position to further sub-license to outsiders.
Companies interested in online casino operations, software and service providers in the online gaming industry can apply for a master license to conduct gambling business activities in the jurisdiction of Curacao, based on the following requirements complied:
1.existence of a registered company in Curacao. A local limited liability company (B.V. or N.V.) must be established, have a registered address in the e-zone of Curacao and be registered as a legal entity in the chamber of commerce and Industry. To apply for a business license in the commercial register of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce, the following corporate data should be provided:
- identification document (ID card, driver’s license, passport);
- name and registered address of the business;
- amount of invested capital and source of finances.
2.a local resident should be appointed as a director to represent the foreign company;
3.presenting transparent description of the games;
4.the detailed explanation of rules to use e-games website;
5.the ownership of a domain;
6.having a minimum of one physical server of the company hosted in the Curacao jurisdiction;
7.implementing Anti Money Laundering procedures in connection with every player in accordance with Article 1 and 4 of the National Ordinance Penalization of Money Laundering” (PB 1993, No. 52);
8.arranging a technical (Software and Hardware) audit of each e-gaming system;
9.a software certification of a Random Number Generator (RNG);
The review of the license application shall take up to 6 weeks, during which the Department of justice checks the company’s background information, company history, and e-gaming software to confirm fairness. Upon the successful completion of a review, the company will be granted a provisional license, on condition of a payment of guarantee deposit in the amount of 60,000 ANG (approximately EUR 29,000). In addition to the deposit, Master license holders are subject to monthly payment of 10,000 ANG (approximately EUR 4,900) for the first two years. After a two-year period, any official fees going forward will be negotiated with the government.
While sub-licenses are granted indefinitely, as long as its master licensor is valid. Currently, there are only four holders of Master license, namely, Cyberluck Curaçao N.V. 1668/JAZ, Gaming Curaçao 365/JAZ, Curaçao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) 5536/JAZ and Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ. These master license holders generally charge an annual fee ranging from EUR 10,000 to EUR 25,000 contingent on the type of the license. However, depending on sub-license agreement, licensees are forbidden to accept players from several countries like UK, France, Belize, Netherlands, USA, Germany and Curacao itself. This might seriously reduce the number of the customers, but should the licensees contravene this limitation, there is a high risk that their license will be revoked.
Advantages of doing business in Curacao
In line with operating a legitimate gambling business, companies enjoy several regulatory advantages. By incorporating in the Curacao jurisdiction. The company can apply for a special e-zone where no taxes are applied except for 2% of a net corporate income tax. Although the physical presence of the company is not compulsory, an advanced legislative system and stable political environment sets less restrictions which will enable businesses to operate smoothly.
With a well established financial service industry and strong telecommunication infrastructure, Curacao remains to be the biggest online gaming registries across the globe. The government is supportive to new businesses and the application procedures to legalise a business are quite straightforward. However, the government does not take part in the dispute resolution process between operators and gamers, which may make the online games offered by Curacao based companies less attractive, as players’ rights are not duly protected.
Author: Gulnoza Abdurakhmonova, lawyer at Manimama Legal&Growth Agency