In conversation with industry expert Aideen Shortt, the Founder and CEO of Lilywhite Consulting, who teamed up with SiGMA reporter Maria Debrincat, SiGMA’s latest podcast unravels the intricate details of Curacao’s latest regulatory transformations. Part 1 of this two-part series focuses on understanding the driving forces behind these pivotal changes, crucial dates in the regulatory calendar, and the anticipated effects on operators and the broader gaming ecosystem.
As Shortt delved into the motivations behind the legislative changes, it became evident that one of the key topics discussed in the podcast, is the urgent need to stimulate the island’s economy and address the stark contrast in revenue generation when compared to other global gaming jurisdictions.
Aideen Shortt began by outlining the threefold motivation behind the legislative changes. First and foremost, the aim is to stimulate Curaçao’s economy, which has not been fully capitalising on the potential revenue from the gaming sector. Currently, the government collects a relatively small license fee of 10,000 guilders per month per license, equivalent to approximately 250,000 Euros per annum, a stark contrast to other global jurisdictions, which generate hundreds of millions, if not over a billion Euros annually.
Secondly, the legislation seeks to foster local skills and employment opportunities within the gaming workforce. While there won’t be immediate drastic changes, the long-term goal is to build expertise and make Curaçao a center of excellence in the high-tech gaming industry.
The third objective revolves around Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards. The existing legislation falls short of the necessary international financial regulations, despite the majority of operators voluntarily complying with these standards. The new laws will mandate adherence, ensuring better financial transparency and security.
Shortt emphasised that the legislation isn’t intended to destroy the gaming industry but to restructure it, aligning it with global gambling regulations and benefiting both the government and the people of Curaçao.
Switching gears, Aideen Shortt provided valuable information on key dates and application processes under the new legislation. September 1st marked a significant milestone in the process of regulatory changes in Curaçao. On this date, the Gaming Control Board (GCB) opened itself up to new license applications, signaling the beginning of a major transformation in the jurisdiction. It’s worth noting that these applications are still being processed under the existing law, ensuring continuity for master licenses and sub-licenses. This portal is providing access to application forms and essential information. Notably, the portal has already garnered significant attention, with over 3,000 unique visitors and an average of 15,000 daily page views.
The introduction of direct licenses for operators is a notable change. While these direct license holders won’t be permitted to issue sub-licenses, it presents a new avenue for operators seeking a more direct relationship with the gaming authority.
The registration process for existing sublicense holders is set to begin on November 1st. This registration serves as a census to identify who will continue operating under the new Gaming Authority when the legislation is enacted.
Crucially, the portal will open for direct operator license applications on November 15th. It’s essential to clarify that this process falls under the current legislation and doesn’t require complex local substance requirements. The application involves having a Curaçao-based company with a registered address and at least one local director. Supporting documentation includes standard forms, corporate disclosures, and personal disclosures for Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) and key personnel.
Aideen stressed that these requirements are straightforward and should not be a cause for concern. Successful applicants will receive a provisional license within approximately two months, allowing them to operate. They will then have six months to submit audited policies and procedures, completing the application process.
Staying current with regulatory changes:
Shortt emphasised the importance of staying up to date with regulatory changes, given the evolving nature of the gaming industry. The discussion centered around the impact of these changes on operators and the overall gaming ecosystem.
Operators moving to other jurisdictions:
Aideen addressed the speculation surrounding some operators considering relocation to other jurisdictions such as Anjouan and Canadian tribes. While acknowledging that businesses must make decisions that align with their interests, she pointed out the increased value of a Curaçao license in light of ongoing reforms.
The government’s commitment to improving the jurisdiction’s reputation and aligning with global standards is evident. It’s clear that the Ministry of Finance and the Gaming Control Board are working diligently to make Curaçao an attractive and responsible gaming destination.
Government’s expertise and support:
In response to concerns about the government’s ability to navigate these legislative changes, Aideen assured that Curaçao has the necessary expertise and support. The legislation has undergone extensive input from industry stakeholders and experts, a process that has spanned months and, in some cases, years.
The legislative journey, while challenging, is progressing steadily. The legislation is now at the stage of the Council of Advice, the final step before it goes to Parliament. Aideen emphasised that while the process may be standard, it is essential to ensure that the resulting legislation is workable and attractive for all stakeholders.
Regarding the operational effects of the new legislation, Aideen provided assurance that there will be no surprises for operators. The government’s objective is to restructure the industry, not reinvent it. The upcoming regulations aim to align Curaçao with international gaming standards and practices.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series on SiGMA News where we’ll provide you with practical insights into the operational effects of these regulatory changes, address concerns about AML, KYC, and responsible gaming, and explore the transition from the Gaming Control Board (GCB) to the Curacao Gaming Authority (CGA). Keep an eye out for the next piece where we’ll continue to decode the intricacies of this evolving landscape.
Watch full podcast here:
Join the upcoming SiGMA event in Curacao
SiGMA Curacao is less than a week away. It will be held in from the 25 – 28 September. The event is hosted by the Ministry of Finance in association with SiGMA Curacao
Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to be part of SiGMA Curacao, where you can gain valuable insights into the new gambling legislation, explore the thriving iGaming industry, and connect with key players in Curacao. Check out all the details here.