Curaçao’s new gambling ordinance aimed at overhauling licensing structure reaches parliament


A new ordinance updating gambling regulation in Curaçao has been submitted before its Parliament. One of the key changes that the proposed law, called the National Ordinance for Games of Chance, will bring about is a modification in the licensing structure. Under the new law, Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) are permitted to have more than one account, and they can obtain multiple licenses. Additionally, all licenses will be allowed to have unlimited domains.

Curaçao’s Ministry of Finance has also announced some immediate steps to facilitate a seamless transition from the existing framework to the new system. Master licensors are no longer eligible for new extensions or renewals of their licenses. The existing master licenses will stay valid until their scheduled renewals expire or the ordinance is put into effect, whichever occurs first. 

If the new ordinance is enacted or if less than 12 weeks remain in the current renewal period, master licensors who wish to continue their operations independently are required to await the implementation of the ordinance and then proceed to submit a license application.

On the passing of the ordinance or when there are no less than 12 weeks of the current renewal remaining, whichever happens first, the Master Licensor must notify the country’s regulator of which sublicenses remain contracted to it. After this time, Master Licensors, should they wish to continue operations in their own right, will need to wait until the ordinance is implemented and apply for a license.

In a shake-up slated to roll out starting January 1st, 2024, all existing license holders under the outgoing law (called Ordinance on Offshore Games of Hazard) will be provided with the opportunity to apply a novel digital seal to their website domains. This digital seal will be issued by the Curacao Gaming Control Board. 

The board is currently in the process of devising a digital seal policy that will require operators to integrate a distinct “token” linked to each domain registered on the board’s portal into the DNS of their websites. License holders will be responsible for actively overseeing their sub-licenses to ensure that no variation of the official digital seal is employed without proper authorization. Violations of this policy will result in action taken by enforcement agencies.

A license application from a completely new entity will be handled according to the outgoing law. If the application is not yet finalized by the time the new law takes effect, it will hold a similar status to sublicensees.

Sublicense holders currently in possession of a new direct license under the outgoing law will experience an immediate transfer of their business operations to the Gaming Control Board regulatory system, and they will be subject to the conditions of the new license. Any ongoing contractual agreement with the master license holder will remain the responsibility of the two parties involved, without interference from the board.

The cutoff date for the registration of sub-licenses on the board’s portal, along with the subsequent application for direct licenses by those sublicense operators, has been established as March 31st, 2024.

Sublicenses and domains registered on the Gaming Control Board’s portal, with applications in progress on it or holding a license under the outgoing law, can continue operations without interruption under the sublicense agreement until a direct license is issued.

Upon the enactment of the new ordinance, any direct license held by these sublicenses and domains will be ‘grandfathered’ into the new framework as a provisional license without any disruption to business operations. Applications in progress at that time will continue under the new framework, and sublicense operations can proceed without interruption.

Sublicenses and domains that are registered on the Gaming Control Board’s portal but do not have any applications in progress on it, and/or those sublicenses and domains that are registered on the Gaming Control Board’s portal and have a license issued to them by the board under the outgoing law, can continue operations under the existing agreement with the master license holder until the expiration date or until the new law comes into force, whichever occurs first.

Any subsequent application will be treated as a new application and will not be ‘grandfathered’ into the new framework when it replaces the old one. In such a scenario, there will be a risk of temporary interruption to operations between licenses.

Sublicenses and domains that are not registered on the Gaming Control Board’s portal and have no applications in progress on it, and/or those sublicenses and domains that are registered on the Gaming Control Board’s portal and have a license issued to them by the board under the outgoing law, will have to immediately cease operations under any sublicense contractual agreement from March 31st, 2024.

Any application submitted thereafter will be considered a new application and will not be ‘grandfathered’ into the new framework when it replaces the old one. In such a scenario, there will be a risk of temporary interruption to operations between licenses.