Australia Demands Action From Curacao On Offshore Casino Websites

Australia has had enough of the many casino websites operating offshore with iGaming licenses issued by Curacao.    

Curacao iGaming online casino gambling
Hundreds, if not thousands, of online casino websites operate around the world with a license issued by government officials on the small island of Curacao. Australia is seeking to crack down on the number of illegal gambling websites its people can access. (Image: Wikimedia)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) says it’s sent numerous requests to the Curacao Gaming Control Board (CGCB) for the small Caribbean island and semiautonomous nation to seize the operations of iGaming firms. In particular, those that continue to offer illegal online gambling websites and platforms in Australia. After many pleas, the Aussie government agency says it’s finally received word that the island controlled by the Netherlands will act.

ACMA engages with overseas regulatory bodies for the purposes of assisting with our enforcement and disruption efforts against illegal services. In relation to Curacao, we have written to them about individual services licensed in their jurisdiction,” an ACMA spokesperson told The Guardian.

ACMA officials say they’ve identified nearly 1,000 accessible websites in Australia that promote and operate prohibited online slots, interactive table games, bingo, lottery games, and sports betting. Many of those sites operate through a license issued by the CGCB.

Reforms Forthcoming

Curacao is a major iGaming hub, with many platforms targeting remote gamblers based in countries where such gambling is outlawed. Along with Australia, China is a major target for the offshore entities.

Curacao currently allows its four Master Gambling License holders to subcontract the concession to third-party online gaming firms. Those offshore operators, which are said to number in the hundreds, don’t undergo suitability checks. Many gaming officials in countries like Australia say there’s little transparency and oversight regarding the sublicensees.

Curacao last year acknowledged its gaming regulations needed improvement. The island is in the process of forming the Curacao Gaming Authority, which will be tasked with licensing and regulating online gaming concessions.

Master licensees will no longer be allowed to tether their license to a subcontractor. That’s a move that’s expected to cancel hundreds of iGaming sites and send those operators looking elsewhere for licensure.

We are continuing to explore further regulatory collaboration with overseas gambling regulators and would welcome any opportunity to engage with the Curacao Gaming Authority to share information or coordinate action against the provision of online gambling services in breach of Australian laws,” the ACMA spokesperson added.

The Curacao Gaming Authority will implement a regulation that requires all of its iGaming permit holders to offer a patron dispute form on their website and/or app. Those disputes will also be sent to the regulatory for resolution monitoring.

iGaming Hubs

Curacao isn’t the only place where many online gaming enterprises set up shop. Other notable iGaming hubs include the Philippines, Malta, the Isle of Man, and Gibraltar.

Sites obtain some sort of operating license and then use the permit to offer online casino games in countries where iGaming isn’t legal or regulated. Powerful countries like the United States have seized unlawful casino sites in the past and blocked their ability to reach internet users located in the country.

The American Gaming Industry believes U.S. residents bet approximately $400 billion annually on illegal iGaming websites and apps. The rogue action costs federal and state governments tax revenue, poses risks to consumers, and undermines the legal gaming industry, said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller.

“All stakeholders — policymakers, law enforcement, regulators, legal businesses — must work together to root out the illegal and unregulated gambling market,” Miller declared. “This is a fight we’re in for the long haul to protect consumers, support communities, and defend the law-abiding members of our industry.”

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