WILLEMSTAD - “Curaçao is currently missing out on millions due to the way our licensing system in the gambling sector is set up”. That is according to the Minister of Finance Javier Silvania. According to the minister, Curaçao is missing "millions" due to the current set-up with a select number of master licensees who can issue an unlimited number of sub-licenses.
Last Friday, a consultation took place between the Ministry of Finance and the trust sector in Curaçao. The topic of discussion was the reform of the gambling policy that is in the making.
New legislation and a new supervisor for online gambling must be established in Curaçao by the end of the year. The new policy is expected to become effective in the first quarter of 2023.
After documents by Follow the Money, and De Groene Amsterdammer/Investico/Argos, among others, the sector in the Netherlands is under fire with parliamentary questions from SP and the ChristenUnie, and harsh statements from Minister Dekker and the Gaming Authority.
Javier Silvania of ruling party MFK was clear in his speech that the reputation of the gambling sector in Curaçao must improve.
The various changes in the pipeline for the gambling sector are being done in “close cooperation with stakeholders,” the minister assured those in attendance.
Silvania indicated that he personally meets with those involved on a monthly basis to which the new guidelines, policy measures and amendments to the law apply. In the announcement of the consultation between the minister and the trust sector, he had already indicated that the input from the trust offices is essential.
The minister not only discussed the reputation of the sector that he believes needs to improve, he also discussed the financial aspect of the reforms. From the start, the minister has been clear that one of the key points of the new legislation will be that a larger contribution will go to the state treasury.
According to Silvania, the trust offices are the real high earners of the online gambling industry, not the master licensees. Companies that want to open an online casino in Curaçao must have a Curaçao letterbox company in addition to a license.
The Curaçao trust offices are estimated to manage hundreds to thousands of letterbox companies for gambling sites, according to the minister. The owners pay about € 22,000 per year per online casino to have the trust office conduct the management from Curaçao, according to Minister Silvania.
In July, Minister Franc Weerwind responded to parliamentary questions from ChristenUnie. In his answer, he indicated that the gambling sector in Curaçao is opaque, and therefore a danger to regulated markets such as the Netherlands.
Minister Silvania endorsed that answer from his Dutch colleague. The Curaçao minister indicated that Weerwind had made a "clear statement" with his answer, and that it "broadly indicates where we stand now."
To change that, a new gambling law is in the works that should be presented this month. According to Silvania, there is currently a lot of uncertainty in various areas, which makes it difficult to "take concrete substantive steps." But, the minister noted, it is certainly not impossible.
Under the new system, the online casinos must pay more money directly to Curaçao itself through a “renewed and efficient system of licensing fees and other taxes.”