When the pandemic started, Curacao was one of those jurisdictions to first feel the heat of missing tourism dollars. The country, which is a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, turned to Dutch authorities for help who, in turn, took the opportunity to resolve a matter they have long had an issue with – the licensing of gambling sites in Curacao, which involved the inclusion of a new regulator.
The Dutch government argued that it would offer Curacao COVID-19 relief funds with one condition being a thorough overhaul of the way Curacao issues licenses to gambling sites. All of this was happening at roughly the same time while the Netherlands was discussing the legalization of its own gambling industry at home which went live in October.
Now, a year after Curacao vowed to take a tougher stance on its regulatory regiment for gambling sites, Dutch lawmakers have new concerns, arguing that as many as 12,000 websites licensed in the jurisdiction may be offering unlicensed gambling in countries across the world.
Where Did the Numbers Come From?
These concerns are exacerbated by a recent report by Follow the Money, a Dutch investigative media outlet that alleges that this is the exact number of websites that are not pertaining to local regulation and targeting markets they are not allowed to operate in. Essentially, Curacao may be responsible for as much as 40% of the global unregulated gambling, Follow the Money’s article claims.
However, lawmakers have been unable to verify the information. Dutch minister of legal protection Sander Dekker explained that those numbers were as of the time of discussion not verified. Dekker reminded that the Netherlands could not force Curacao to act one way or another towards its gambling regulation, as it’s an independent jurisdiction.
However, he did bring up the matter with Curacao last year which involved discussion of reinforcing control on gambling sites and how licenses are issued. The licensing system in Curacao is very flexible as it allows new operators to register and set up business very quickly, as well as get software from other licensed entities that are there to provide turnkey gaming solutions (that is the platform a brand would need to get started right away).
Curacao further incentivizes licensees by offering minimum taxation and is usually touted as a libertarian jurisdiction where the government exerts very little control or say in gaming matters, leaving companies to exact their will, hoping they would comply with individual regulatory frameworks.
Curacao’s Operators Tied to Unregulated Gambling
Dekker has confirmed that claims for illegal gambling coming out of Curacao are taken seriously and that he and the Dutch government are taking those accusations very seriously and hoping to address them head-on.
In November, the Swedish gambling regulator had to suspend 23 Curacao-based operators which were targeting customers without a permit by the Spelinspektionen to do so. The majority of banned gambling websites in the Netherlands, Sweden, most of Europe and Australia, are usually operating under a Curacao license, which gives some credibility to the claims made by Follow the Money.