Curacao Urged to Crack Down On Internet Casinos Targeting Australians

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Mar/25/2024

  • Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) accuses some 90 Curacao-licensed gaming operators of targeting Aussie gamblers.

  • Some of the offenders claim to be “the best Australian online casino website” even thought they are based in the Caribbean.

  • Curacao is in the process of overhauling its online gambling industry licensing business.

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Australia continues to block online casinos based offshore targeting its citizens.  Many of the thousands blocked thus far appear to be based out of and licensed in the online gambling hub of Curacao.  Now the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) is asking Curacao's government to crack down on these businesses. 

A spokesperson for Acma told The Guardian the agency had discussed its “investigations into individual services licensed in Curaçao” on six occasions since a June meeting with the regulator to “establish contact”.  They reached out to Curacao's finance minister, Javier Silvania, directly, accusing some 90 operators of targeting Aussie gamblers.

Curacao was among the first jurisdictions to begin licensing sportsbooks during the 1990's and this process expanded into the online casino sector by the early part of the 2000's.  Most of the operators focused on the North American market.  Among the oldest established Curacao-licensed online gambling and sportsbook companies is Pinnacle Sports (since the late 1990's).  It should be noted that Australian sportsbooks like Canbet and Centrebet were among the first to target US citizens in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

“Acma engages with overseas regulatory bodies for the purposes of assisting with our enforcement and disruption efforts against illegal services,” the spokesperson said.

“In relation to Curaçao, we have written to them about individual services licensed in their jurisdiction and about updates on the Curaçao regulatory framework”.

Some of the more than two dozen online casinos based out of Curacao and blacklisted in Australia specifically offer promotions that feature Australian-specific landing pages.  Some even describe themselves as “the best Australian online casino website”.

“In each case, we have contacted the operator and relevant master licence holder regarding the contravention,” an Acma official told Silvania in May last year. “As at date of this letter, these services continue to contravene the Australian [Interactive Gaming Act] by providing prohibited gambling services to Australians.”

Curaçao is in the process of overhauling the online gambling industry and a new entity, the Curaçao Gaming Authority effective the end of this month (March).  Master license holders will no longer be able to sub-license for a fee and licenses will only be granted to those companies with a strong track record.

“The Curaçao Gaming Control Board is committed to keeping the remote gaming industry free from crime and ensuring that licence holders act in a fair and transparent manner and protect the vulnerable players, including minors,” the Curaçao Gaming Control Board update said.

“Applicants and licence holders are expected to demonstrate reasonable efforts to secure compliance with law and financial sanctions guidelines in the countries where their services are accessed.”

“We are continuing to explore further regulatory collaboration with overseas gambling regulators and would welcome any opportunity to engage with the Curaçao Gaming Authority once established, to share information or coordinate action against the provision of online gambling services in breach of Australian laws,” the letter from Acma said.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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