The island nation of Curaçao became one of the first to offer online gaming licences in 1993, a year before its Caribbean cousin Antigua. Soon after, in 1996, Curaçao eGaming was formed to supervise the integrity of the country's e-Gaming licensees. Curaçao eGaming was decentralised from the offline regulator Curaçao Gaming Control Board in 2002, and now offers one licence covering all gambling types. The licence is split into two parts:
Master Licence – grants businesses the right to run an online gaming company, as well as the option to offer sub-licences to other parties.
Sub-Licence - grants businesses the right to run an online gaming company only.
The licence allows companies to run:
This lack of market restrictions and low entry barriers are attractive to new companies as they allow them to start business without much red tape, offering personal dedicated servers and private cloud servers.
Curaçao initially attracted businesses with low corporate tax rates of around 2%, with a number of sweeteners on top such as no sales tax and no VAT. Despite an official seal of approval, the wish to welcome as much business as possible has been damaging to Curaçao’s reputation, and the licensing process is considered to be less than rigorous. With the main requirement for gaining a licence being having enough funds and passing a third-party audit, the lack of regulation has made many mistrust the security of playing with Curaçaon operators.
Despite its less than stellar reputation, there is no denying that Curaçao has a wealth of experience: this Caribbean island has been giving out online gaming licences for almost two decades. As Gaming Awards reported, the country makes more money from its gambling industry than tourism trade, although the legalities of the money being made has been questioned in the Dutch government. Despite this, the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, has ruled out any intervention, allowing Curaçao to manage its own affairs.
The hands-off approach has meant that the jurisdiction generally does not intervene between operators and players, giving it a poor reputation for customer service. This has had a detrimental effect on players choosing to bet with companies based in Curaçao, as their wagers were not as protected as they would be were the online casino based in a country with a more reputable licensing system and regulatory body. Unlike some of its Caribbean island neighbours, Curaçao is a glaring omission from the UK’s white-list of gambling jurisdictions.
If the new constituent state can distance itself from its shady past by bringing in firmer regulation to protect players, while offering the same tax incentives and systems to attract new clients, Curaçao could yet become a central online gaming hub within the Caribbean. The first steps towards this goal have already been taken, with the Curaçao Gaming Control Board creating new regulation in 2014 to manage bookmakers. It remains to be seen, however, how far Curaçao intends to push its transition.
Curaçao eGaming has been making strides to fix its damaged reputation, propelled not only by online reviews and opinion, but also by factors affecting the entire country. The islands, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, became a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands when the Antilles were dissolved in October 2010. This new change of identity seems to have been the driving force to help mend its online gaming status.
Betting on sports is also a strong market for Curaçao, with many bookmakers holding a licence on the island, including ComeOn Sportsbook, Bet365, and 32Red Sportsbook. In addition, Curaçao is home to over a dozen physical casinos, such as the Breezes Curaçao Resort, Casino Royale, and the Marriott Emerald Casino. Most only offer slot machines, although a small number also feature poker rooms and table games.