WILLEMSTAD - If you have ever scrolled all the way to the bottom of an online gambling site, poker or otherwise, you may have noticed one of several small countries listed, like Malta, Isle of Man, or Curaçao. PokerStars, for instance, is licensed in the Isle of Man. Bwin.party and Phil Galfond’s Run It Once are licensed in Malta. The not-so-secret secret about Curaçao, for as many online gaming operators as it licenses, is that it is essentially a rubber stamp regulator, not offering much, if any, regulatory oversight of its licensees. This lack of control might be changing.
The oversight of online gaming is being shifted from Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Finance. The significance of this is that Curaçao’s Gaming Control Board (GCB) falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Finance and thus said Ministry already has experience regulating the country’s brick-and-mortar casinos.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that the same body that oversees casinos would do the same for online gambling, but obviously this wasn’t the case. And not only wasn’t this the case, but online gaming really had nobody controlling it at all. Sure, sites were granted licenses, but that’s like me going online and becoming an ordained minister. I might have the certificate, but it just means I cut somebody a check for the correct amount.
That’s not to say that every online gaming site licensed in Curaçao is a bad actor – there are certainly plenty of honest sites – but the ease of being given a license there means that there is also a better chance that any given licensee will go rogue. And this looks like what Curaçao aims to fix.
Kenneth Gjisbertha, the country’s Minister of Finance, effectively admitted that Curaçao’s licensing regime has been a joke, saying, “in the case of illegal 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 Curaçao.”
“Up to now there has been no specific supervision of online gaming or internet casinos….”
Now, under the auspices of the Finance Ministry, online gaming “…supervision to be expanded soon concerns compliance with all laws and regulations relating to games of chance – offered in or from Curaçao – to their providers and participants, including laws and regulations for the prevention and combating of money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation.”
The new controls will also strengthen a crackdown on illegal gaming operators.