UKGC Imposes £6M Penalty on Gamesys for Social Responsibility and AML Failures

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Further to the announcement made by the Minister of Finance, entitled New Curacao Legislative Framework – Critical Milestones issued on December 20, 2023, the Curacao Gaming Control Board (GCB) provides the following information as to the authorisation rights regarding access and use of the GCB Portal.

We have become aware that there are issues arising from some misconceptions relating to the rights of access to and responsibility for the account relating to the application only, as distinct from the requirement of the GCB that they are notified about all current licensing arrangements and operational domains being used by Curacao operators (the so-called ‘census’) via a separate account.

We, therefore, intend that the term ‘licensee account’ is only used for an application account as distinct from a ‘census account’, which is only used to register domains and licenses some of which may never form part of a license application. Lest any confusion is caused we issue the following guidelines with effect from January 15, 2024. Specifically, we wish to add further clarity in connection with the terminology used on the portal.

A) Licensee Account

A licensee account is a portal-based account between a Curacao incorporated entity that wishes to apply for a license from the Curacao regulator under the National Ordinance on Offshore Games of Chance (NOOGH). The licensee account will form the primary point of formal interaction between any license holder and the GCB for the duration of the application purposes.

The licensee account is established only when a letter of authorisation has been submitted to the GCB. Licensee applicants will include (and may primarily comprise) those currently operating under a contractual arrangement with the master licensor (a sublicensee). However, they can include new applicants and master licensors wishing to operate themselves under the new transitional regime.

The letter of authorisation can only be signed by a person who may lawfully bind the applicant company (the lawful representative) whereby he/she/they appoints a representative who takes responsibility for gaming license application on the portal (the authorized representative).

Whilst acting as the authorised representative this person will also act as the portal administrator – see further below – with the ability to create other users with differing input and access rights. The authorized representative’s identity shall be entirely at the discretion of the applicant. The authorized representative can be, for example, an internal employee or director of the applicant, a third party with a pre-existing relationship (including but not limited to CSPs/existing directors/master license holders) or a third party with a trusted relationship (eg lawyers/accountants etc).

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A couple of additional points to note:

1. The authorized representative will act as portal administrator and may create other user accounts but only as authorised by the lawful representative. The GCB will not require disclosure of this authorisation but the authorized representative must be satisfied the authority has been given.

2. Master licensors who are obliged to take part in the census (as referenced below) may open a census account in their own right and will also have portal administration rights save that they will have no right to apply for a license through the census account (unless they are also appointed as the authorized representative by the lawful representative on the license account) or they open their own license account and make an application on their own behalf.

3. In addition, should an authorized representative notify a census account holder that it intends as part of its application to use domains already registered as part of the census (a ‘prior census’) it can on notice to the master licensor census account holder request the transfer by the GCB of such domains from the census account that the GCB as super-administrator of the portal can effect, provided it is satisfied that the master licensor has been given notice by the authorized representative. If, however, it is later determined by the GCB that the authorized representative has acted in bad faith (for example, the applicant had no rights in connection with the affected domains) the GCB may take it into account in deciding whether to refuse the application and/or determine to restore the domains to the census account of its own volition (which may it also elect to do where the applicant does not proceed with its application).

4. Finally, where a licensee account (i) has been opened prior to the master licensor participating in the census, (ii) where a master licensor has been notified that a domain has been deleted (see further the footnotes below) or (iii) there has been a GCB-effected transfer of domains as per A(3) above, the master licensor must be given access by the authorized representative to its portal, (with the onus on the authorized representative to initiate) to ensure the information for which it (the master licensor) is responsible is correct for the purposes of the census. The master licensor’s rights in connection with each licensee account are ONLY access to the sublicensee section of the portal where the applicant’s details and domains are visible – not the online gaming application section itself (the master licensor will not, of course, have any connection to census requirements relating to non-sublicensee applicants).

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The authorized representative is responsible for the overall portal information input access rights and administration.

Note too that:

  • Any licensee account applicant can apply for one or more licenses under the one account.
  • Any UBO(s) can have one or more licensee accounts for separate operations through separate Curacao incorporated entities. UBOs may well have several independent investments in operational companies for example. However, it is worth noting that personal information disclosures of the UBOs will not need to be replicated for every new license as after the first application the UBO will be ‘known’ to the GCB, subject to any updated disclosures that may have a bearing on the license decision.
  • Any applicant can use unlimited domains associated with that license.

The portal, therefore, shall presently enable multiple persons to access a single licensee account or census account (see further below) albeit with the above strict parameters only afforded to portal administrators.

B) Mandatory Sublicensee Registration Under NOOGH

1. As per the above, the master licensors are obliged to register the sublicensee and their associated domains on the GCB portal pursuant to the so-called ‘census requirements’ in order to give the GCB visibility over current operations.

2. Given it is the master licensor’s responsibility to ensure the information is (i) accurate and (ii) complete, the GCB will require limited proof of authority in connection with the appointment of the representative with delegated responsibility for the census account (the census representative) other than the confirmation by way of digital signature of the master licensor on the census letter of authority when it opens its census account for each sublicense and related domains operating under the purview of its license. This will not require the GCB to be satisfied that the signatory on the census letter of authority has the right in law to bind the master licensor and the GCB will be satisfied by what appears to be ostensible authority. As with the license account and authorized representative, the census representative can be any suitably qualified third party.

3. Full cooperation for the census is mandatory for the master licensors, save where A(4) above applies and the master licensor acting reasonably is satisfied that the license application associated with domains referenced under A(4)(i) and (iii) above has been made. Failure to do so will mean the impacted sublicensees will need to cease to operate under their associated master license by March 31, 2024, (i). This means that as at March 31, 2024, if a sublicensee is not on the census with associated domains the master licensor’s contractual support for such sublicensee’s domains must cease, unless the master licensor is satisfied (acting reasonably) that an application has been made by a sublicensee to the GCB with domains which would otherwise have formed part of the census.

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4. As referenced above where there is no prior census relating to particular sublicensee and related domains, the license account takes precedence and obviates the need for the master licensor to open a census account relating to those domains provided the master licensor is granted access to the license account portal as per A (4) above.

Footnotes:

1. Where license applications have been submitted prior to this guidance and the GCB has doubts about the validity of legal authority of the lawful representative to authorise the application being made and the authorized representative being appointed (or removed), the GCB has the right to seek further due diligence in order to satisfy itself that the lawful representative was in full possession of all legal authorities, permissions and consents to take the actions he/she/they have undertaken.

2. The GCB may disable domains referenced in the census account or the license account where it appears that they are not active. The relevant census representative and authorized representative will be notified promptly.

3. The GCB may be requested to delete domains from a license account or a census account where the domain owner has been changed (with satisfactory demonstration of the ownership change having been given to the GCB.)

4. Templates of the letter of authority and the census letter of authority will be available on the portal from January 15, 2024.

Approved on January 10, 2024.

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