All you need to know about Curaçao Gambling Licenses

By Alex Smith, Last updated Apr 10, 2024

A Curacao license is one of the most common online gambling licenses that you’ll find used by online casinos, and there’s a number of reasons why so many online casinos and online gambling operators – some of which we’ll be taking a look at on this page.

In case you weren’t aware, Curacao is a Lesser Antilles island which is located in the south Caribbean sea. While Curacao used to be under the control of the Dutch government, today they make their own laws – although the Dutch government is still heavily involved with the day-to-day running of the country.

Master License Holders

When it comes to the Curacao license, it can be a fairly confusing topic – not least thanks to the fact that there’s a huge lack of transparency surrounding the way in which these licenses are actually handed out to online gambling operators. However, despite there being little information publicly available about how this whole industry works in Curacao we’ve managed to uncover a fair amount about how it all works – and it all really comes down to four main ‘Master License’ holders.

These Master Licenses are handed out by the Ministry of Justice, and according to the Finance Minister they cost about €50,000 each. Each master license holder is then able to sub-license their licenses out to other online casinos and online gambling companies, and while it’s a fairly decent idea in principle, unfortunately both the Curacao government and the master license holders have a very poor reputation when it comes to making sure that licensees are adhering to the terms and conditions of their license.

Below, we’re going to be taking a look at who the four main license holders are.

Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ

This is the first master license holder, and very little is known about the people behind Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ; however, they’re one of the more popular master license holders and they’re responsible for licensing hundreds of online casinos and online gambling websites. 

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We should also point out then when compared to other Curacao master license holders, the Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ master license is generally seen as more reputable and responsive to complaints than others; this means that online gambling websites licensed by this Curacao gambling license aren’t necessarily shady or rogue sites as is often assumed.

Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority

The Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority is, we believe, the first company to be awarded a master license from the Minister of Justice, and this was awarded all the way back in 1996; this actually makes the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority one of the first online gambling license holders in the iGaming industry!

Unfortunately, despite the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority existing for more than two decades in the industry they have a really poor reputation and they often allow their licensees to get away with pretty much anything including breaching their own terms and conditions; for example, some of their sub-licensees have been found to be running pirated versions of games, and the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority has done nothing about this. Generally, they don’t take action against rogue online gambling operators, they don’t pay much attention to player complaints, and as such you should approach any online casinos they license with caution.

Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ

The Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ is the third holder of a master license from Curacao, and like all of the other master license holders relatively little is known about them; in fact, in terms of an online presence, Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ probably has the least presence – they don’t even appear to have a website, and this means that it’s basically impossible to contact them.

Should you choose to play at an online casino that holds a Curacao online gambling license from the Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ and if something goes wrong you have virtually no recourse – and making an official report to the regulator is exceedingly difficult and produces no meaningful results.

Gaming Curacao 365/JAZ

Gaming Curacao is the fourth and final master license holder and they’ve been around since 1998 – making them the second-oldest master license holder in Curacao. While they lack transparency, Gaming Curacao tends to have a fairly good reputation in the online gambling world, although very little is known about them; they tend to have a secretive nature online.

However, the reason why we say that Gaming Curacao typically has a fairly good reputation is down to the fact that they have been seen to take action against rogue operators in the past – although if things do go wrong while you’re playing at an online casino licensed by them, your chances of a successful resolution are not great. What it boils down to is the quality of the individual operator, some of whom are quite excellent.

Why So Many Online Gambling Companies Choose Curacao

Today, virtually all new online casino websites choose Curacao to acquire their online gambling license and there’s a number of reasons why; below, we look at some of the main reasons why so many online gambling operators choose Curacao.

Low License Fees

The application procedure for a Curacao gaming license is the quickest of any casino licensing country. Naturally, this is contingent on the applicant presenting all required papers in a timely way.

It also implies that the paperwork should be current and, if necessary, notarized. The procedure may take up to two business days in certain situations, not considering the time it takes to assemble the paperwork. Curacao is ideal for businesses on a tight schedule that need to be up and running and profitable as quickly as feasible.

Curacao is one of the most cost-effective countries in the world. The prices of setup (roughly €20-25K) and continuous maintenance (recently revamped to be around €16K/year) are generally considered to be quite reasonable and accessible to all budgets, especially those who are just getting started.

Low Barrier to Entry

The procedure of obtaining a gaming license might be difficult. Consider the mountains of paperwork, application forms, and supporting papers that need a significant amount of time and money to collect. In Curacao, however, this is not the case. There are still standards to be completed, but the level of bureaucracy is much reduced, making applying for a gaming license far less of a hassle.

Curacao is still the fastest and simplest jurisdiction in which to get a gaming license. It gives entrepreneurs with an excellent sandbox chance to test their product before facing a more difficult licensing jurisdiction, thanks to its simple approach and easy continuing upkeep.

A Curacao license is the most reasonable option for a firm taking its initial steps into online gaming. It enables the business to test the idea, build a customer base, and reinvest revenues without having to spend a lot on expensive applications, taxes, and fees. It also promotes overall development by allowing the corporation to expand into new market categories, games, and places without incurring financial losses.

One License to Cover all Gambling Activities

Depending on the games you’re selling, several countries need various types of licenses. Some have distinct game classes’ add-on licenses. This implies that if you wish to provide games like slots, live table games, casino games, lottery, and bingo, you may need to repeat the licensing procedure. With a Curacao gaming license, this is not the case.

For example, when online gambling operators receive a Curacao gambling license they are able to offer all sorts of online gambling activities, whether it be video slots, live dealer games, casino table games, scratchcards or instant win games – all under the same license.

A Notoriously Bad Reputation

A Curacao gambling license may be easy to acquire but there’s a reason for that – and that’s because the online gambling regulator has a terrible reputation in the iGaming industry. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why a Curacao gambling license is rarely viewed as a positive thing by players.

A Lack of Responsible Gambling Tools

When you look at some of the world’s major online gambling regulators like the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority you’ll notice that a large section of the rules and regulations enforced surround responsible gambling; for example, online casino sites licensed in the UK need to offer players a number of hands-off responsible gambling tools like deposit limits, loss limits, wager limits, time-session limits and self-exclusion functions…

And while Curacao online casino sites are theoretically supposed to offer responsible gambling tools, in reality these are very rarely implemented like they should be. When they are available they are generally seen to be of little use to players due to widespread lack of enforcement. For example, most of the online casino sites with a Curacao gaming license require you to manually enter into a self-exclusion agreement by contacting the casino’s customer support team, although even then the process to actually exclude your account can be time-consuming.

As mentioned, when an online casino site with a Curacao online gambling license doesn’t offer the responsible gambling tools that they’re supposed to, the regulator doesn’t appear to take action – creating a hotbed for rogue casinos to operate. For example, some of the Curacao-licensed casinos have even started to run marketing campaigns that directly target those with gambling problems – something that would be incomprehensible in most other jurisdictions. 

No Transparency

Aside from the fact that we know that Curacao’s Minister of Justice is the one to actually distribute licenses to online gambling companies very little is actually known further than this; for example, the government doesn’t publish any information as to how they actually regulate those with a license, and this means there’s a severe lack of transparency.

The fact that Curacao’s government and the four master license holders refuse to answer simple questions obviously doesn’t help matters much: the black hole of Curaçao licensing remains inscrutable.

Very Rarely Takes Action Against Rogue Casinos

One of the biggest problems with online casino sites licensed in Curacao is that they’re very rarely held to account; for example, here’s a quick overview of an investigation that Casinomeister carried out a few years back:

“In May 2016, it was reported that a number of online casinos were using pirated software from Netent and Novomatic (GreenTube), to which the licensing jurisdiction allegedly investigated further. This is questionable since there were never any statements issued by this licensing agency concerning this matter.

Further, after the agency was notified, they refused to release any instructions for players to recoup their funds. They never explained how their licensed casinos were able to run software undetected – software that was neither audited nor authorized.

The casinos that were using the counterfeit software removed the games – but even so, they are still in operation. So with this jurisdiction it’s “catch me if you can.” I’m guessing that their philosophy is “don’t use cheating software. If you do, please remove it or we will revoke your license.”

This is one of the biggest problems with online casino sites licensed in Curacao; they pretty much have free-reign to do whatever they want with virtually no consequences. Even when gaming companies have been shown to be running fake or pirated versions of games the online gambling business sees no consequences – and this is problematic for players as it means there’s virtually no protection as the online gambling regulator simply doesn’t get involved.

There is one big exception to this though: there are some truly excellent casinos operating under a Curaçao license but that is only because of the standards set and maintained by the individual operator. It’s their personal integrity and reputation that their players can trust, not something required or mandated by the Curaçao license itself. Fortunately the best Curaçao license holders have been in the business for decades so the word has gotten around and their reputation is (eventually) known to serious players.

Finally; the Dutch Government Promises Change

In December, 2021, the Dutch government finally came out and said that they would be putting together an action plan to deal with Curacao gambling operations – and this was first revealed by Sander Dekker, the Dutch minister for legal protection. He revealed in a press release that the government was drawing up plans to begin clamping down on unlicensed online gambling operators which target Dutch players from Curacao – which is officially still a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Contrary to what some reported at first, Dekker revealed that Curacao has now accepted the proposal of an independent gambling regulator coming in – and this comes after questions were raised in the Dutch parliament after a team of journalists revealed that some 12,000 illegal online gambling websites were operating out of Curacao. The minister stated that an action plan will be unveiled later in December 2021 which will see an independent gaming regulator brought in that will have the power to grant – but more importantly revoke – gambling licenses.

Speaking in parliament, Dekker said: “Based on local laws and regulations, there is a small number of master licenses provided by the authorities in Curaçao which can be transferred without the intervention of a government body. This has resulted in a large number of sub-licences, which explains the range of online games available in Curaçao.

“The cabinet takes the concerns about illegal gaming in Curaçao seriously and is committed to limiting the illegal offering of games of chance from Curaçao. Curaçao is currently working on a step-by-step plan of action to limit and better regulate the supply of games of chance. As expected, this action plan will be adopted this month.”

The latest news from Curaçao on the new licensing regime is quite encouraging. There is a new body overseeing licenses, licenses will now be issued by the government as opposed to that being the exclusive domain of the Master License holders, and there is the promise at least of tighter regulation and policing of all Curaçao license holders. The https://portal.gamingcontrolcuracao.org/ portal offers an insight into what is expected to be forthcoming for Curaçao licensees.

FAQs

Are Curacao-licensed casinos safe?

This depends entirely on the online casino site you’re choosing to play at, meaning the individual operator you’ve chosen; while it’s simply not true that all Curacao-licensing online casino sites are shady or illegal operations, it’s pretty fair to say that many illegal and/or unscrupulous online gambling operations are indeed based in Curacao; some are also run out of Russia and Costa Rica.

It’s certainly fair to say that some of the newer gambling operators attempt to get a license in Curacao purely for financial reasons; for example, when a new operator enters the market they simply can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a UKGC or MGA license – so they turn to Curacao, instead.

However, the problem is that Curacao’s vetting process is incredibly weak; this means that many shady online gambling operators are able to slip through the cracks and get a gaming license, even if the site’s operated by criminals.

Because of this, you’re only advised to play at casinos licensed in Curacao that you are confident are fair; for example, some of the Accredited casinos here at Casinomeister hold Curacao gaming licenses and have done for many years. 

Who are the four master license holders?

There are four master licenses in Curacao; these include Antillephone NV 8048/JAZ, the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority, Curacao Interactive Licensing N.V. (CIL) #5536/JAZ and Gaming Curacao.

Each of these master license holders is able to sublicense casinos and sports betting companies – and it’s up to the master license holder to regulate the owners of the licenses that it issued.

For the record there are a few other Master License holders — perhaps three more at last count — but they do not actively issue sub-licenses. So for all intents and purposes they aren’t relevant because there are no casinos licensed by them.

Who issues the master licenses?

The master licenses are issued by the Minister of Justice in Curacao; this means that they’re issued directly by the government. However, strict privacy laws have prevented much being known about the process behind the issuing of master licenses – or the amount of money that each of the master license holders has paid to receive their license.

What is the Dutch government doing to combat rogue operations in Curacao?

In 2021 the Dutch government revealed that they were closely looking at the licensing fiasco in Curacao – and they were working on legal frameworks to bring in an independent regulator to do away with the shady master license holders.

Of course, this hasn’t gone down very well with Curacao-licensed casinos and it’s likely we’re going to see some significant pushback. However, the Curacao government has already agreed to the Dutch government’s plans, according to recent reports, so it may well be that the haven for rogue online gambling operators in Curacao is quickly coming to an end.

As mentioned above Curaçao has proceeded with the restructuring of casino licensing and it’s generally seen as a promising — but as yet far from proven — initiative to clean up the Curaçao licensee scene.

How can I check whether or not a Curacao license is valid?

The process of checking whether or not a license from Curacao is valid depends on which of the four master license holders you’re gaming with. For example, Gaming Curacao runs a license validator which allows you to click on the license logo in the bottom of the casino’s website and check yourself whether or not a license is valid.

One of the other master license holders keeps an up-to-date register of all the casinos that they’ve issued licenses to which allows you to simply head to the website and look up the name and/or URL to double-check whether or not the license is valid.

How much does it cost to get a Curacao gaming license?

There’s a wide variety of factors that can be taken into account when applying for a license from one of the Curacao operators. However, there’s some ball-park figures that we can give: if an operator wants to apply just for a gaming license under the new regime (2023-2024) then they can typically expect to pay in the region of €20,000 startup fees and roughly €16,000 running costs in subsequent years. There is 0% casino tax in Curaçao and the corporate tax rate is around 2%.

However, many operators entering the iGaming industry with a Curacao licensed tend to use a turn-key (white-label) solution; this means that everything from the online gambling license to the casino games, payment providers and marketing systems are included for a higher upfront cost, and this cost can vary widely, anything from €50,000 for a vanilla start-up to several times that for something more substantial.

As with anything in life, the price that’s paid depends on a huge number of factors, and the price for one new gaming operator is likely to be different to another.

What kind of gambling activities does a Curacao license cover?

One of the major benefits for online gambling operators when it comes to a Curacao license is the fact that one license covers pretty much all forms of online gaming; for example, once an operator has been awarded a license they can offer whatever kind of iGaming activities they want whether it be video slots, live dealer games, casino table games, poker or bingo.

Unlike with some other online gambling regulators, Curacao doesn’t require operators to apply for multiple licenses for each of the gambling activities they want to offer; this helps to keep costs down for operators and this can then end up turning into lower costs for the player.

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