How do Curacao licenses work?
Gaming licenses issued in Curacao (a constituent country on the Caribbean island of the same name that belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands) are very popular among modern poker rooms.
The main advantages of this license for gaming sites are the following:
- One license covers all forms of gambling (poker, betting casino).
- The licensing process is fast.
- Low cost. The basic license, which entitles you to sublicense, costs $34k, with a monthly fee of $5,6k for the first 2 years.
- The tax is paid in profit, not turnover, and does not exceed 2%.
- Curacao, as part of the Netherlands, has the status of an EU member.
Curacao does not have a government regulatory body. Also, there are several "main licensees," private companies operating on a commercial basis—for example, Curacao eGaming and Antillephone N.V.
Thousands of companies hold Curacao licenses because it is effortless to obtain them and boosts the reliability of any site, but because of the lack of control over the operator's activities, this license is not considered prestigious.
How to file a complaint against a poker room?
If you want to resolve your dispute with a licensed Curacao room by contacting the regulator, you can submit a complaint. On the room's site, scroll down the main page and look for the licensee's logo image (for example, Curacao eGaming). It must be an active link.
- On the license page, click the "File a complaint" button.
- A form to submit complaints will then open. It must be completed in English.
- You must include your name, email address for communication, and email or username of the account in the room.
You can detail the situation with the poker room in the field below:
Check the box to accept the rules, and submit the complaint.
If there are no links to the license, you can write to support, find out the license details (company, number), and write to the licensee's site. However, you should not have hope that such appeals will be effective.
Precedents of complaints in Curacao
Online poker players rarely bring their problems to the gambling commission. The few cases that we are aware of were related to banned accounts and seized funds. None of them were resolved in favor of the player.
For example, in 2017, MPN players received the following response from Curacao to their claims:
"The operator has provided proof that you have breached terms and conditions by using automated playing software. That is the reason your accounts were blocked."
That is, the regulator simply agrees with the decision of the poker room, accepts their evidence, and informs the player about this. After this, the incident is considered settled.
It's not that other licensors deal with players' complaints in any other way. Recall the story of "Mercator" in 2017. In his case, the Gibraltar Commission also sided with the room (partypoker), and the site returned the money to the player only after he went to court.
Reform in 2021
It's unclear whether, for the reasons described above or for other reasons, recently, the Dutch government linked the payment of financial support to Curacao in the pandemic context with the need to reform the online gambling licensing process.
Raymond Knops, Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Netherlands, reached the island's authorities. Its main provisions were published in the Curacao Chronicle:
- Prepare by March 1, 2021, a package of bills on an independent regulatory state body to control online gambling, with the power to revoke any licenses.
- Eliminate the "Main Licensees" program, leveling the rights and obligations of all private entities that hold a Curacao license.
- Modify the payment of all taxes and fees directly, regardless of the place of registration of the operator (now many sub-licensees hardly pay taxes because, for example, they work through Cyprus).
Prepare by September 2021 a compliance plan to force gambling sites to comply with the domestic legislation in which they operate.
In general, the upcoming changes in the licensing process should increase state control over the gambling industry and bring more order to this area, and hopefully will lead to more attention to the issues of players from the Curacao Gambling Commission.
What awaits licensed rooms?
The last point of the reform raises the most questions as it can significantly affect the regular operation of many poker rooms. Currently, GGPoker, TigerGaming, PokerKing, RedStar Poker, and dozens of small rooms hold Curacao licenses.
There are two possible ways to interpret the rule about the need to comply with the laws of the country in which the room operates (soft and hard):
- Compliance will be required only in countries that have already regulated the gambling market, and a government body supervises it. Then sites with a Curacao license will have to request a local license or leave such countries. The restriction may apply only to EU countries.
- The rule will also apply to countries where online poker is treated differently, from a complete ban (as in China) to working only through legal partners.
Most rooms will probably not be satisfied with any of the above scenarios and will prefer to move to other jurisdictions. In any case, a detailed bill will be published in almost a year, and its adoption and implementation may be delayed indefinitely. We will follow the news on this topic.
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