Getting a gaming license in Belize has some unique advantages. Much like for any other gaming license, there are steps that need to be followed to obtain it, as well as costs and other factors that need to be accounted for. Read on to learn whether a Belizean gaming license is a good fit for your needs.
Why would you need a gaming license in Belize?
Simply put, the Belize government offers a one-size-fits-all gaming license that covers all kinds of online gambling activities, which makes the process of starting an online casino business very convenient for operators. There are also some lucrative tax benefits, which may be accessible depending on your specific business model.
Gaming in Belize is regulated by the Gaming Control Board (GCB). Recognizing the potential of iGaming for inviting foreign investment early on, Belize introduced the Computer Wagering Licensing Act in 1995. Originally, the annual fee for a license was $50,000, but in 2004 it was reduced to just $15,000. As of 2022, it’s set at an even more affordable $10,000.
Although the low annual renewal fee may seem appealing to a prospective online casino operator, there are some requirements to satisfy and factors to consider before applying for a Belize gaming license. We will cover them in further detail below.
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What are the requirements for a gaming license in Belize?
Before getting further into the requirements, note that, while the application process is in English, the GCB has a very limited online presence and makes little information publicly available. This is why, when approaching the Board to apply for a license, it can be helpful to seek assistance from professionals who are up to date with the latest requirements, allowing you to save time and effort.
On to the requirements. The most important thing that needs addressing is a $500,000 deposit to be held in trust by the GCB as indemnity against fraud or other violations. This cost will need to be factored into your initial application.
Other formal requirements to obtain a gaming license are:
- The company should be registered in Belize
- Applicants must submit paperwork showing information about company directors and managers to demonstrate financial means, integrity, and competence
- Persons with any financial interests in the company must submit copies of their personal identification along with two recent black & white photos
- If the company founders do not reside in the country or do not have local citizenship, they must submit an application for citizenship and provide a copy of this application
- Any company should provide profit and loss statements for the previous three years in order to verify the absence of any debts
- All founders and financially interested persons obtaining income from the company must provide copies of their fingerprints
Operators must also fulfill certain requirements tied to the security deposit:
- The company must deposit reserves and security deposits in the Central Bank of Belize
- Any deposits or reserves withdrawals must be reported to the GCB
- Casino operators are obliged to pay out all winnings without delay to clients in order to avoid any disputes or conflicts
A final point to consider is that all Belize gaming licenses need to be renewed on March 31st annually. Therefore, to get the best value for money, it would be wise to consider applying as close as possible to this date. As long as you are able to meet the stipulations listed above, obtaining the Belize gaming license should be a fairly swift affair.
How much does a Belizean gaming license cost?
As mentioned above, an appealing reason to obtain a Belizean gaming license is its low yearly cost. Here’s a quick overview of the upfront costs for a first-time application:
- Gaming license application fees: $10,000
- Gaming Control Board dues: $5,000
- Guidebook application fee: $500
Approximate total for your first gaming license application: $15,500.
Some other important factors to consider:
- The annual renewal fee of a gaming license is $10,000
- Taxes amount to 0.75% of the gross annual turnover, up to a maximum of $250,000
- Companies that conduct online gaming business as their only business outside of Belize may be able to obtain tax exemption
- As mentioned, a $500,000 deposit must be held in trust by GCB as indemnity against fraud or other violations
How does Belize’s license compare to other Caribbean licenses?
There are other Caribbean countries offering popular gaming licenses, like Panama and Curaçao. The Belize license has its advantages: for example, it requires far less paperwork than a Panama license.
In addition to all the documents we listed above for the Belizean application, Panama also requires a full company business plan and proof of software compliance and games certifications. Online casino operators in Panama are also required to prove their industry experience and relevant qualifications. Applicants in Panama may have to wait up to 60 days just to be considered for approval, whereas Belize’s turnaround time can be as little as 24 hours if all application criteria are met.
The Curaçao license, however, remains perhaps the best option for a license issued in the region, thanks to the balance it strikes between ease of obtaining, access to financial institutions’ services, costs, taxation, and reputation with players. Furthermore, Curaçao licenses may soon reach a new level of prestige thanks to the re-regulation of the jurisdiction currently being discussed.
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Here’s a comparison between the Belize, Panama, and Curaçao licenses:
The table clearly shows the advantages offered by a Belize gaming license — the short time required to obtain it, and its relatively low cost. These are somewhat offset by the large initial security deposit, but the accumulated savings on license renewals could outweigh that depending on your business plan.
What are the disadvantages of a Belize gaming license?
The main disadvantage of the Belizean gaming license is the large initial outlay of $500,000. This is a required deposit to be held in trust by the regulatory authority, acting as indemnity against fraud or other violations. Another disadvantage is the fixed date for license renewals.
Finally, it’s important to note that Belize gaming license holders are strictly prohibited from offering their services to locals.
Can you operate without a gaming license in Belize?
No, it is illegal. Operating without a license also damages the reputation of our industry, which relies heavily on player trust. You should not attempt to operate an online casino business without a gambling license, regardless of the jurisdiction.
Some operators may consider the costs of licensing and taxes are too high, and decide to operate on the black market. While this may save them money in the short term, the costs of the consequences may end up being far greater than any fees or taxes. In short, online casino licenses may present a significant initial cost; however, the alternative includes potential fines, criminal charges, and even prison time. Is operating a rogue casino worth the risk? We don’t think so.
Belize gaming license FAQs
Q: How much is the initial gaming license application?
A: The total cost is approximately $15,500, depending on your needs. This figure also includes GCB dues and the guidebook application fee.
Q: How much is the annual renewal fee of Belizean gaming licenses?
Q: When do Belize gaming licenses expire?
A: The annual license expires on March 31, regardless of the issue date.
Q: Are there any other annual fees to consider?
A: Taxation runs at 0.75% of the gross annual takings. However, licensed companies may be able to qualify for tax-exempt status.
Q: How quickly can an application be processed?
A: An application can be processed in as little as 24 hours, assuming that all the paperwork is in order and required fees paid.
Q: How much will I need to pay as a deposit to the GCB?
A: A $500,000 deposit is required to be held in trust as indemnity against fraud or other violations.
Q: Can you advertise your online casino business to Belize locals?
A: No, licensees are prohibited from offering their services to locals.
How can Slotegrator help?
As mentioned, we are able to assist you in acquiring a gambling license in Belize for your online casino project. A gambling license will help you gain the trust of your players and leading game developers, allowing you to successfully grow your business.
To learn more about our jurisdictional advisory services, request a free consultation by clicking the button below.