Why does Curacao attract rogue operators?
By Bradley Retter | BestUSCasinos
The online gambling world features over a dozen different licensing jurisdictions. These jurisdictions are responsible for vetting applicants and issuing gaming licenses to companies.
Curacao is one of the largest authorities in the industry. They have hundreds of licensees and continue building on this amount.
Curacao eGaming seems to be doing something right since they’ve attracted so many companies. But they’re mostly popular due to their lax standards. They don’t thoroughly vet applicants, and they approve just about any company who can cover the fees.
These factors have led to Curacao being known as a “rubber stamp” jurisdiction. Such licensing bodies are looked down upon for their weak guidelines.
The good news, though, is that they’re trying to step up their standards. But is this effort enough to save their reputation?
More importantly, should you trust gambling sites with one of these licenses? Keep reading as I discuss this matter, beginning with how Curacao earned its lowly reputation.
Brief History of Curacao eGaming
Curacao was one of the earliest licensing bodies in real money online gambling. They launched as “Cyberluck” in 1996 while still part of the Netherlands Antilles.
They began competing against the likes of Belize, Costa Rica, and Antigua for a slice of the local licensing pie and emerged as a successful jurisdiction from a monetary standpoint, given their large number of licensees.
However, Cyberluck also developed a reputation for having no oversight over its operators. Multiple casinos and sportsbooks house in Curacao have closed without repaying players.
Cyberluck, meanwhile, didn’t do anything in these instances. They eventually changed their name to Curacao eGaming in hopes that rebranding could improve their reputation.
While things have improved slightly, Curacao eGaming still does little to help players. They don’t intervene in operator-gambler disputes and merely provide a place for companies to legally operate.
Now a constituent country of the Netherlands, Curacao has recently begun to worry about their reputation. As I’ll cover later, the Ministry of Finance has taken over the online gaming sector. Only time will tell if they can turn the licensing jurisdiction’s reputation around.
Characteristics of a Curacao Online Gaming License
Curacao is one of the cheapest jurisdictions to obtain licensing. They issue “master licenses” to approved applicants that cover a 60,000 ANG (approx. 35,000 USD) fee.
Licensees must then pay 10,000 ANG (approx. 5,900 USD) in licensing fees every month for the first two years. They also need to pay a 2% tax on annual net profits, which is extremely cheap compared to other jurisdictions.
As if the low fees and taxes aren’t enough, master licenses cover casino gaming, poker, and sports betting. Most licensing bodies, in contrast, force operators to obtain different licenses for each type of gambling.
Yet one more bonus is that master licenses can issue sublicenses to their different skins. An all-encompassing software provider, such as Microgaming, can cover licensing for all of the casino skins that it serves.
The cherry on top is that Curacao eGaming licenses are easy to obtain. Well-funded applicants have little to worry about as long as they properly fill out forms and have the necessary money.
Why Does Curacao Attract Rogue Operators?
Earlier, I covered how Curacao eGaming has drawn some unsavory operators. These are referred to as “rogue” gaming sites, because they’re dishonest and have no qualms about cheating customers.
Curacao seems to draw these types of licensees for several reasons. Here’s a recap of why they’re a hotspot for rogues.
A $35,000 “setup fee,” plus $5,900 every month thereafter, might seem like a lot of money for licensing. However, it’s a rather miniscule amount compared to what many entities require.
Antigua, which is by no means a blue-chip jurisdiction, requires a $15,000 application fee. They then demand a $100,000 annual fee on top of this.
The UK Gambling Commission barely charges anything for an application. However, they tax a lofty 15% of total online gambling revenue.
High Rate of Approval
Applying with the UKGC, Danish Gambling Authority, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, or any other prestigious jurisdiction carries a chance of rejection. The same can’t be said of Curacao’s licensing process.
They’ll approve just about any operator that can pony up the setup fee, monthly dues, and taxes. They’re not overly worried about potential rogue operators.
Curacao has a history of being hands off when it comes to operators. They’re not going to intervene on behalf of a gambler who feels they’ve been ripped off.
This isn’t the only licensing body that behaves in this matter.
However, Curacao also doesn’t win any points for disciplining operators and making sure that players have a safe gambling environment.
Not every company that obtains a Curacao license is unreputable. But the bad actors appreciate this jurisdiction’s low standards.
Ability to Serve Numerous Countries
A master license covers most of the world. The only countries or territories that are banned at the time of this writing include:
The lucrative US gaming market isn’t available to Curacao operators. However, these licenses apply to numerous other countries.
Curacao in the Process of Stepping up Their Standards
The Ministry of Justice has been running Curacao eGaming for over two decades. However, this nation is ready for a change with their online gambling licensing business.
The Ministry of Finance, which oversees the country’s land-based casinos, will assume control over internet gambling licensing. This change will see the Ministry of Finance’s Gaming Control Board (GCB) preside over online gaming matters.
Kenneth Gijsbertha, the Finance Minister, told Antilliaans Dagblad that his department hopes to improve the country’s licensing reputation.
“In the case of games of chance. Fairness of the offered payment of the prizes is not guaranteed, which disadvantages players and seriously detracts from the international image of Curacao.”
The Finance Minister also wants to impose tougher standards on licensees and ensure that all operators comply with international laws. Regarding the latter, Gijsbertha wants to prevent terrorists and money launderers from using their jurisdiction to carry out crimes.
Whether or not these changes result in a major change remains to be seen. Curacao isn’t the world’s worst licensing jurisdiction, but they’re far from the best.
Perhaps only Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama have a lower reputation. GCB has its work cut out in trying to change the country’s perception as a licensing authority.
Curacao’s history doesn’t inspire much trust in their licensing. They haven’t done a great job of cross-checking applicants and ensuring that only quality companies operate in their jurisdiction.
That said, you can’t have a lot of faith when you see the Curacao eGaming shield at the bottom of gaming sites. The only thing this shield means is that a company is serious enough to obtain a license. They’ve ponied up the fees to operate in a legal gaming jurisdiction, which is a step in the right direction.
However, you shouldn’t expect this licensing authority to intervene on your behalf. Curacao eGaming has never shown the teeth to step up and ensure that operators treat customers fairly.
Gambling sites are essentially able to get away with anything in Curacao. They can refuse payment to players for arbitrary reasons and feature abusive bonus terms and conditions.
But don’t take this to mean that all Curacao-licensed sites are bad. Some solid companies with a long history of success operating in this jurisdiction.
You just need more diligence when dealing with such sites. You can read reviews and check industry watchdog sites to get a read on these gambling sites’ reputations.
You’ll find that some Curacao-based gambling companies are very reputable. They pay players on time, run fair games, and have good customer support.
Eventually, you may also be able to have some confidence in Curacao licensing. The Ministry of Finance will be running the online gaming sector, in addition to overseeing brick and mortar casinos.
Curacao has a lot of ground to make up regarding their reputation. That said, I can’t say for sure whether the switch will make a huge difference.
But this licensing jurisdiction may have more hope than it previously did under the Ministry of Justice. I might reform my opinion on Curacao licenses if positive change is brought about.