Curaçao is planning to extend significant tax incentives to the online gambling industry and to create a financial institution to help with payments as the government seeks to put the jurisdiction on the international map, Finance Minister Javier Fransisco Antonio Silvania says.
In a keynote speech at SiGMA Europe, Silvania said his presence at the conference signals Curaçao’s commitment to ensure it is an “important player in the online gaming industry.”
Silvania is overseeing a major revamp of the Dutch-Caribbean island’s gaming industry to ensure proper regulation and supervision. The new regulations are expected to take effect from 2Q23.
The finance minister revealed that the government is in the process of setting up a local payment institution, which will allow the industry to make payments without the need for a local bank account.
Curaçao to address banking hurdles
“I am very aware of the challenges which the sector encounters regarding the payment of local costs,” he said. “The council of ministers has approved to continue the process of establishing a local financial institution that will provide the gaming sector with the possibility to make local payments without the need of an account at a regular bank.”
He said more details will be available shortly.
On taxation, Silvania said the government is working on a decree that will extend an investment tax exemption to online gambling. That exemption is for most taxes up to a period of ten years.
To qualify, the company must invest around $3 million and employ at least ten locals. The government is also looking to extend a sales tax exemption to B2B companies.
Crypto to continue for now
Silvania also clarified that crypto payments are not prohibited as the sector is currently not regulated. He said the new gaming law will contain a clause that will allow operators to make crypto transactions until applicable regulations come into force. He gave no further details.
The gaming overhaul was announced in July and follows criticism from the Dutch government that online licensees operating with lax oversight were targeting regulated markets, including the Netherlands. Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Silvania also stressed that the industry will be expected to make a greater contribution to the state treasury and the island economy.
After the overhaul, the Curaçao Gaming Authority (CGA) will become the prime body to oversee licensing and enforcement, replacing the current system of master licensors. There are currently four, which offer sub-licenses with no direct government oversight.
This has also effectively meant that the master licensors are responsible for enforcing the island’s AML and other laws.
Fees adjusted for startups
There will be fees associated with the new licenses, though Silvania said they have not been finalised. He said they will be competitive and affordable for operators. They will also be adjusted to take account of startups.
Another essential part of the gaming framework will require that licensees must have at least local employees in key positions to ensure the local economy benefits.This will entail having one employee on obtaining the license and three five years after the law takes effect.
14 – 18 November for SiGMA Europe
Being one of the first European countries to regulate the gaming sector, Malta is a hub of global business. With a plethora of prospects for both investors and entrepreneurs looking to shape the future, SiGMA’s Malta Week event will bring together industry giants among the affiliates, operators, and suppliers of the sector.