Gambling is an accepted pastime across Belize. The country was one of the first to address online gambling with the passage of the Computer Wagering Licensing Act in 1995. The laws have been updated and amended since then, but the date of the original law shows how far ahead of the curve Belize was back in the mid-90s.
There is also a small brick-and-mortar casino industry in Belize. The two largest casinos are attached to tourist resorts while other, much smaller collections of slot machines can be found across the country. Tourists are advised to stick to the two large resort-casinos as the quality and fairness of smaller gambling rooms is questionable.
One of the odd things about the gambling laws here is that any company with an internet wagering license is prohibited from offering its services to Belizeans. Licenses are only approved for local companies that offer their services to players from other countries. This is despite the fact that there are no criminal laws that prohibit citizens from playing at offshore betting websites.
So basically, local companies are unable to service the local market but citizens are free to gamble at sites based out of other countries. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s look at a couple of the best options for Belizeans.
Belize Betting Sites
Due to quirky Belize gambling laws, citizens must play at online gambling sites headquartered in other countries. You are free to play at any site located anywhere outside of Belize. With that in mind, I have put together a list of casinos that are hosted in countries with strict licensing standards.
The inability to play at local gambling sites in Belize may actually be a good thing. Belize’s licensing standards are notoriously lax and provide few player protections in the real world. You’re better off playing at sites headquartered in jurisdictions that closely monitor and regulate the industry.
Each of the online betting sites on this page supports English and Spanish. They have both languages available on their websites, in the casino software and are able to provide customer support in both languages. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a gambling site that supports Kriol.
Depositing in Belizean Dollars
You may sign up for an account in Belize but you’ll be subject to currency exchange fees when depositing and withdrawing. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough demand from Belize for international online gambling sites to warrant native support of the BZD. You can still deposit via numerous deposit methods, but they will all require a currency exchange.
The little good news I have is you don’t have to exchange the currency yourself. Either the gambling site or your deposit method will convert your BZD to USD at the time of the transaction. Neteller and Skrill are both popular options among Belizean locals.
Belize Gambling Laws
Belize became one of the earliest online gambling licensing authorities when it passed the Computer Wagering Licensing Act of 1995. The goal of the act, in its own words, was to
“legalise wagering by Computer Internet; to provide for the licensing of computer service operators who provide Computer Internet users with the facility to wager against each other on sporting events or other games of chance; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
The Act created the “Belize Computer Wagering Licensing Board” and set forth the standards by which Belize online gambling sites would be judged for licensing. Anyone seeking a license must be at least 18 years old, have no criminal record and be considered “of good character” by the board.
Additionally, Belizean betting sites were required to pay a BZ$100,000 (US $50,000) licensing fee and pay a US $500,000 deposit upfront for any potential “obligations” or fines. The Act also set forth banking requirements, separation of players’ funds and other little rules of that nature.
If you read through the law, you’ll see that there is no mention of player safety nor are there any provisions for ensuring fair games. The only part of the law that even touches on that is ensuring each site has enough money on hand to pay players. This is one of the reasons why in-the-know gamblers don’t put much faith in a Belizean license. It’s better than no license at all, but it is by no means a guarantee of safety.
The Prime Minister amended these laws in 2004 to reduce the licensing fee from BZ$ 100,000 to BZ $30,000 (US $15,000). The amendment also changed a few things around with the licensing requirements so that now anyone licensed in Belize must maintain a local customer support center but may host their servers offshore.
My personal opinion on the matter is that the licensing framework was rather poorly implemented. It looks more like an easy way to raise money for the government rather than any sort of serious effort at regulating online gaming in the country. To me, it seems the government is happy to take the licensing fees and get locals employed for customer support but takes zero interest in monitoring the actual games.
Brick-and-mortar casinos in Belize are mostly small affairs that consist of a few dated slot machines in an ante-room of some other business. It’s anyone’s guess as to which of these are actually licensed and which are considered black market. Exercise caution if you play anywhere that is not connected to a major tourist resort.
The two largest and most legitimate casinos in Belize are the Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City and Captain Morgan’s Retreat in Ambergris Caye. Princess consists of a small collection of table games and about 400 slot machines. Captain Morgan’s has a couple of table games, 40 slot machine and 2 tables for poker cash games and tournaments.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.