Belize: Law of Offshore
Internet Gambling Law
Belize is one of the few countries that has enacted legislation allowing for the establishment of online wagering. Its Computer Wagering Licensing Act, 1995, which came into force on May 28, 1996, provides for the proper conduct and regulation of gambling via the Internet.
Besides legalising wagering on the Internet, the Act also provides for the licensing of computer services operators who provide Internet users with the facility to wager against each other on sporting events or other games of chance.
'Computer Internet' is defined in the Act as being any publicly accessible data transmission network, or any privately-owned data transmission network which is authorised to transmit such data. And, computer wagering service is defined as being a computer service which allows computer users to wager on sporting events or other games of chance against each other through the Computer Internet.
The Belize Computer Wagering Licensing Board vets all applications for licences to provide computer wagering services and, with the prior approval of the Minister of Home Affairs (Minister), can grant exclusive licences. They are also responsible for the control and regulation of all persons who provide computer wagering services.
The Board is comprised of the Accountant General, the Auditor General, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and three other persons appointed by the Minister, one of whom is appointed on the recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition.
Application for a licence to provide computer wagering services should be accompanied by the prescribed licence fee of USD10,000 (at the time of writing) for a non-exclusive licence. If an application is refused, the licence fee is refundable subject to an administrative charge.
If a licensee breaches any provision of the Act, or any regulations made thereunder, or any of the conditions attached to the licence, the Board may at any time revoke the licence without compensation and without prejudice to any other penalties imposed by or under the Act. Revocations may be appealed to the Minister whose decision is final. Regardless of the time of issue, an annual licence expires on March 31st next following.
The following documentation need to be submitted upon application for a licence to provide computer wagering services:
- Application letter - including corporate name, website address and a brief description of the activities of the business;
- Description of project - including methodology, operational procedures, etc.;
- Business background of the Company as related to Wagering on the Internet;
- Memorandum and Articles of Association;
- Certificate of Incorporation or registration in Belize;
- Names and personal employment record of the beneficial owner(s), officers and principal employees;
- Character references of the beneficial owner(s), officers, and principal employees;
- Police/criminal history record of the beneficial owner(s), officers and principal employees;
- Names of all holding, intermediary and subsidiary companies;
- Financial background of the Company;
- Financial resources of the Company - including statement of assets, liabilities, net worth;
- Bankers/financial references of the Company
As a security for the performance of obligations under the licence and for the payment of any fine, licensees were required under the original legislation to make a cash deposit of USD500,000.
Other regulatory requirements include:
- The maintenance of a separate bank account for processing wager transactions. Licensees may charge a processing fee not exceeding 5% of each transaction, or the sum of USD20, whichever is greater.
- A copy of the daily transactions and the bank account balance of each computer user may be required by the Board.