Belize: Offshore Business Sectors
BBelize is one of the few countries that has enacted legislation allowing the establishment of online wagering. Its Computer Wagering Licensing Act, 1995, as amended, provides for the proper conduct and regulation of gambling via the Internet.
Besides legalising wagering by computer Internet, the Act also provides for the licensing of computer service operators who enable computer Internet users to wager against each other on sporting events or other games of chance.
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.
In October 2004, then Prime Minister Said Musa, who was also the minister responsible for gaming control, signed a statutory instrument which adjusted the online gaming regime to make processing and monitoring more efficient while reducing the normal fees associated with licences in Belize from US$50,000 to US$10,000. A licence is required by international business companies conducting or intending to conduct gaming from within Belize; no business can be conducted with residents of Belize.
According to the new rules, only persons with integrity and competence and with adequate financial means will be considered for a licence, and only one licence can be held at any one time.
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 US$20, whichever is greater.
There is a 15% withholding tax on payments of winnings or prizes made by holders of computer wagering licenses.
See Law Of Offshore for further details of the Act, including the application procedure.