Curaçao Again Pushes Back Online Gambling Reform Time Line

Posted on: January 4, 2023, 07:45h. 

Last updated on: January 4, 2023, 01:41h.

The tiny Caribbean island nation of Curaçao is pushing back the time line for reforming its online gambling regulations. The government intends to give stakeholders more time to prepare for changes the Netherlands has been pushing it to implement.

A part of Curaçao, as seen from the sky. The tiny Caribbean island nation is reforming its gambling laws, but the process is moving slowly. (Image: Curta Mais)

Curaçao is a constituent country of the Netherlands and home to a number of online gaming operators, including Stake and others. The island offers a favorable tax regime and infrastructure for gambling businesses, which the government has been slow to reform, leading to criticism from certain industry players.

The Netherlands has been critical as well, as Curaçao has maintained relatively lax oversight of its licensed operators. That will change, but the process is moving slowly.

Curaçao Gaming Gets an Upgrade

The Curaçao government needed financial assistance during COVID-19, which gave the Netherlands the perfect opportunity to request certain changes. Most notably, the Netherlands pushed Curaçao to streamline its convoluted licensing regime.

Curaçao’s current gambling laws are out of step with the global attitude toward regulation. That includes strict control over responsible gambling protocols and anti-money laundering (AML) rules that, until now, have been virtually nonexistent.

In addition to revamping the oversight of licenses, stricter AML processes and responsible gambling procedures will be part of the new regime, according to previous Dutch government updates. While this will undoubtedly force some operators out of the market, some see that as being good for the industry.

The governments of the Netherlands and Curaçao have recognized that this exodus may take place and are in favor of it.

Until these reforms are enacted, online gambling oversight remains extremely loose in Curaçao. This lack of regulation creates risks for players, such as an absence of financial checks that might detect illegal activity.

As the transition continues — which the Netherlands hoped to complete by the end of last year — Curaçao is receiving more input and feedback. There had been a chance that the country’s Parliament would receive an updated framework in February. But this is apparently no longer the case.

What’s Next for Curaçao

The amount of input on gambling reform the country’s leaders are receiving is slowing progress. Whereas February seemed to be a realistic deadline late last year, the Dutch government is now leaving things open and won’t commit to a definitive time frame.

Various government entities in Curaçao, including the Ministry of Finance, are helping formulate the new regulatory guidelines. Once they determine how they want to proceed, they have to send the recommendations to the Netherlands for approval.

That could happen sometime this month, but it won’t be the final step. Dutch authorities have to review the recommendations and request any changes on the part of Curaçao. It’s highly unlikely that the framework the Netherlands government receives will be as bulletproof as it expects.

As a result, the logical next step would be another rewrite of the rules and regulations on the part of Curaçao authorities, which would then return to the Netherlands. There will need to be another review, with additional input required on the final draft. Therefore, it’s possible that even more time will pass before the new regulations arrive.