The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao has long been licensing online casinos and sportsbooks. However, a recent bout of hefty fines for the sites that they regulate has prompted authorities to tighten their oversight and control.
The Curaçao Chronicle, a local news outlet, published a report explaining that the island’s government has revealed plans to tighten its grip on the online gambling services that are provided from the territory by operators.
Many of the licences issued today are obtained by trust offices that are based on Curaçao, rather than by the brands themselves. Easy profits mean this practice has mushroomed. In fact it has become such a common practice, the Chronicle explains, that betting websites have been able to operate without proper regulation for years.
CyberRock Entertainment and its affiliate company Honeydew Trading Limited were recently fined by Kansspelautoriteit for doing just that. The ensuing media coverage prompted the stricter controls and each company was fined €350,000 for targeting Dutch customers.
Both operators were clients of Carmanco NV, a subsidiary Curaçao Trust Management of NV. This trust management company is licensed by the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten to provide services to international clients. After the evidence of CyberRock Entertainment and Honeydew Trading’s practices came to light, the bank announced it would be taking measures against Curaçao Trust Management.
A direct link between online gambling practices and money laundering has been suspected for some time. There are also worries that terrorism is being financed, human beings and arms are being trafficked, and other serious crimes are being committed behind the online betting front.
Curaçao also has a thriving land-based casino industry, which is overseen by the island’s Gaming Control Board. The plan now is for this body to take control of the online casino and sportsbook sector. Dutch MP Ronald van Raak praised the steps that have been taken to combat illicit actions within the territory, calling it “very good news”.
Van Raak has been very vocal in his criticism of similar underhanded licensing and regulation processes in the Netherlands, so his comments are unsurprising. The politician also pointed out that the situation is reflecting very badly on Curaçao, and a tarnished reputation has far-reaching social, political and economic effects. He then said that the multi-billion online gambling industry was not yielding any benefits for ordinary Curaçaoans, but it does threaten to politically destabilise the territory. Van Raak suggested that local regulators terminate sub-licence sales.