Despite being a small island nation sandwiched between Aruba and Bonaire and just off the Venezuelan coast, Curacao has made itself known in the iGaming world as one of the major legal jurisdictions to offer online gaming licenses. Formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao became an autonomous, constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands in 2010 and such has fortified its position as a global licensing authority.
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Curacao and Online Casino Licensing
Gambling licenses were issued as early as 1993, three years before the Curaçao eGaming supervisory entity was formed as part of the offline regulator Curaçao Gaming Control Board. Its first dedicated online casino licence was granted in 1996, at a time where we were still connecting to the internet with a 56KB speed via a simple phone line.
Many online casinos and other online gambling & betting operators have chosen to make Curacao their home due to its favourable tax laws and relatively quick and inexpensive licensing procedure. Curacao charges a tax of just 2% on net profits, much lower than any of the major authorities in Europe.
It is also one reason while a large part of the rather shady or downright rogue casino operators are running their sites under a Curacao licence. However, there is also a good number of reputable and trustworthy online casinos that chose Curacao for other reasons. These are casinos operating in so-called ‘grey markets’, which are countries that do not issue gaming licenses, or those accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment methods.
In over two decades, Curaçao actually issued only four master licences. These are Curaçao eGaming N.V. 1668/JAZ, Gaming Curaçao 365/JAZ, Curaçao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) 5536/JAZ and Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ. Each master licence holder can issue an unlimited amount of sublicenses to entities of their choosing. Each has a process in place where casino operators have to submit only a little more than an online application. A number of Curacao companies have established themselves as licence brokers and do the application work for their clients from around the world.
We at GMBLRS are not big friends of Curacao licenses and as such perform a much more rigorous vetting of such casinos before we are adding them to our listings. They need to show proof of flawless operations over a number of years, don’t have unresolved legitimate player complaints, no history of non-payments of winnings of any amount, no fake games on their site, a responsive complaints team that communicates with us openly when we submit players’ grievances and much more. The main reason for these strict requirements is that Curacao authorities rarely assist in player complaints and with the legal jurisdiction being in such a remote location, it makes any court case sheer impossible to go through.
Rest assured that any of the casinos listed at GMBLRS have successfully completed the extra vetting process and are under permanent surveillance to detect any deterioration in their services as early as possible. Any slipping in the quality will be immediately removed from the GMBLRS casino list with little to no chance to ever return.
1. I am from the United Kingdom. Can I register and play at online casinos with a Curacao licence?
Technically, there is nothing stopping players from the United Kingdom from registering and playing at an online casino with a Curacao licence. However, they do so without any protections whatsoever that normally come with a UK licence. Reputable Curacao-licenced casinos will not accept players from the UK, hence, if you can register odds are high that it is a rogue casino. We strongly recommend to stay away.
2. What is the purpose of the Curacao Gaming Control Board?
The purpose of the Curacao Gaming Control Board is to regulate and oversee the gaming industry in and from Curacao, both land-based and online.
3. Why is there a stigma surrounding Curacao licenced casinos?
There are several reasons. Since its inception in 1999, the licencing authority has demonstrated, in the past, greater flexibility for issuing licences whilst foregoing the depths of investigation seen by other licencing authorities on their applicants. Licences have also been cheaper and less restrictive, which has encouraged rogue casinos and poorly run operations. In 2019, the Curacao Gaming Control Board expanded their AML and CFT procedures for their online jurisdiction, which has brought them in line with authorities from the rest of the world, obligated online casinos to adopt the procedures and attracted more reputable licencing applicants as a result.
4. Is it easy to get a Curacao gaming Licence?
Compared to some other licencing authorities, definitely, but since 2019 all applicants must undergo a fit and proper person test and probity checks to counter the financing of terrorism and money laundering.
5. How do the Curacao Gaming Control Board protect players?
Casinos must offer a self-exclusion facility to combat the harmful effects of problem gambling. Unfortunately, aside from external links to support, any focus on protecting players from the authority ends there. Casinos are only obligated to carry out self-exclusion on their player-active site also, not as a group. The Board are also reluctant to get involved with disputes between players and casinos, often turning a blind eye in the past to some nefarious practices.
6. Should all Curacao licenced casinos be avoided?
While the licencing is weak in protection for players, not every casino is a rogue or inexperienced operation. Some Curacao licenced casinos are in business for the long term and set up to impress. One of the benefits for both players and casinos of operating under Curacao licencing is the less-restrictive freedoms afforded, such as bigger and better marketing and more flexible choices, such as cryptocurrencies or multi-currency wallets.
7. When considering a Curacao licenced online casino, how can you tell a good online casino from a bad one?
By reputation and investigation - do your research! Do they have a history of complaints? Do they display RTP? Do they have restrictive terms and conditions? Our GMBLRS reviews ask these and more questions. Sometimes, a good indicator of a companies ethics and intentions are the response and availability of customer support and more flexible licencing can also make it easier for true stars to shine.
8. Are there any significant plans for the future of Curacao licencing?
Due to a recent change in fortune for Curacao and subsequent political ties formed in 2020 with the Netherlands, pressure is mounting to bring the authority in line with their counterparts, including a long-overdue focus on player protection and concentrated efforts on AML and CFT.
9. What does the future hold for Curacao licenced online casinos?
Expect to see tighter legislation and stricter enforcement of the rules as the authority continue to shake off the shady reputation.
10. Do Curacao licenced online casinos have to show games RTP?
No, online casinos under Curacao Gaming Control Board licencing are under no obligation to display the RTP of games. Some developers, such as Play'n GO, remove the RTP information from the game.
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