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.
Applications for a licence to provide computer wagering services must be accompanied by an application fee of USD10,000. International companies with an online gaming license that route online gaming activies through or to Belize are subject to an annual routing fee of 0.75% of annual gross revenue up to a maximum of USD250,000.
A considerable amount of documentation needs to be submitted upon application for a licence to provide computer wagering services.
As a security for the performance of obligations under the licence and for the payment of any fine, licensees are required to make a cash deposit of USD500,000. Other regulatory requirements include (at the time of writing):
- 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.
See Law of Offshore for further details of the application process.