Updated Information On Antigua and Barbuda Online Gambling Licensing and Laws
The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is located in a section of North America commonly referred to as the West Indies and lay between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The sovereign nation gained its independence from the British crown in 1981 and built an economy based on tourism, accounting for over half of the country’s GDP.
Another large part of the country’s economy is the online gambling, or eGambling, industry. Antigua and Barbuda began offering licenses in 1994, making them one of the first countries to do so. Since then, Antigua and Barbuda have become one of the leading countries in the online gambling world. This is due in part to the many advantages they offer to both players and providers of online gambling sites.
To own and operate an online gambling company in Antigua and Barbuda, a company must be approved for a license by the Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC)’s Division of Gaming. The FSRC offers two types of licenses to apply for, an Interactive Gaming License and an Interactive Wagering License.
The main difference between the two types of licenses is the type of games they permit the licensee to run. An Interactive Gaming License permits the license holder to run online poker and other casino games including roulettes, slot machines, and other types of online gambling games that require the use of a random number generator.
Alternatively, companies can apply for an Interactive Wagering License. This type of license allows licensees to provide bookmaker services for sports betting. A table explaining the cost and fees for each license can be found below.
Cost and Fees for each type of license:
Name of Fee
Interactive Gaming License
Interactive Wagering License
Annual Renewal Fee
Minimum Reserve Amount
A licensee will also need to pay operating costs for the local server they are using to host the site, as well as any other operating costs associated with running their business.
Companies wanting to own and operate online gambling services in Antigua and Barbuda need to obtain a license in order to operate legally. A company that is found to be operating without a license, or who is not complying with the requirements of their respective license, will be subject to criminal punishment.
Most Important Gambling Laws in Effect
The nation of Antigua and Barbuda gained its independence from British rule in 1981, and quickly became a popular destination for offshore banking. A year after becoming an independent nation, Antigua and Barbuda adopted the International Business Corporations Act (IBCA). The IBCA made Antigua and Barbuda a popular gambling destination as well.
Starting in 1994, Antigua and Barbuda began issuing licenses that allowed for online gambling services. Since that time, there have been several laws passed to regulate the industry including the Money Laundering Prevention Act (MLPA), Prevention of Terrorism Act, Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations (IGIWR), and an agreement between Antigua and Barbuda and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
Money Laundering Prevention Act (MLPA) 1996
The MLPA was adopted by Antigua and Barbuda in 1996 and applies to both Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Licensees as they are defined as financial institutions. As a result, both types of licensees are subject to increase scrutiny to ensure they remain in compliance with the MLPA. Licensees must also provide a plan for how they intend to proactively prevent money laundering. Some of the questions that must be answered in the plan are:
How will players’ identities be verified?
How will withdrawn and deposited money be monitored?
What procedures will be employed regarding the “Know Your Customer” requirements?
Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2005
With the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2005, Antigua and Barbuda began requiring licensees to provide training to employees to prevent the funding of terrorism. Since the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the anti-terrorism measures put in place have become part of the regular audits conducted by the FSRC.
Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations (IGIWR)
The IGIWR is a set of regulations governing Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering licensees. The FSRC uses IGIWR to ensure that Antigua and Barbuda maintains its status as one of the preferred licensing destinations for online gambling. The IGIWR also aims to ensure that licensees are following international best practices when it comes to eGambling.
Agreement With Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Beginning in 2010, the FSRC of Antigua and Barbuda reached an agreement with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission that allows licensees to receive a license from either organization to run their operation. This means a licensee can obtain a license in Antigua and Barbuda to operate in Kahnawake, and vice-versa.
This agreement benefits both countries as it makes their regulatory bodies stronger and more flexible. It also helps Kahnawake as it allows the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to benefit from the use of Antigua and Barbuda’s UK whitelist status.
The Gambling Act, 2016
In 2016 Antigua and Barbuda passed the Gambling Act to consolidate the power of all gambling gaming into one organization, the Gambling Authority of Antigua and Barbuda. The Gambling act, 2016 regulates online gambling in accordance with the previously mentioned IGIWR.
Pros of Sites With an Antigua and Barbuda License
As a potential player, it’s important to find real money gambling sites that are not only licensed by reputable countries but also offer the best advantages for consumers. Antigua and Barbuda’s FRSC has gone to great lengths to offer players peace of mind when using sites that carry their seal of approval.
This has been accomplished by the FSCR conducting regular audits of licensees, requiring licensees to maintain reserves for customers, and increasing their regulations to prevent previous issues from recurring.
FSRC Requires Licensees to Maintain Reserves to Pay Consumers
One concern that every online gambler should consider is the possibility that the site will not be able to pay out their winnings or if even they’re able to return the player’s deposit. One advantage for players offered by the FSCR is that licensees are required to maintain enough reserves to pay winnings and payback deposits to players. Licensees are required to keep records of all deposits and financial transactions on their sites for at least five years.
Regular Audits Conducted by Third-Party Auditors
Antigua and Barbuda licensees are required to allow 3rd-party auditors to complete audits on a regular basis. As part of this process, both Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering licensees are required to keep complete records for all players about the amount each player has deposited and won. Licensees are also required to allow auditors access to their gaming software to ensure that it continues to meet FSCR standards.
The presence of regular audits for licensees is an advantage for players because it provides reassurance to the player that the site they are using is offering games that meet the fair play standards. It also provides the advantage to the player of knowing the site has sufficient reserves to pay out any winnings or deposits.
Increased Regulations Make the Antigua and Barbuda Seal More Trustworthy
Another advantage for players using sites licensed by Antigua and Barbuda is that the FSCR appears committed to continually improving regulations to make sites safe for players. The FSCR is tasked with maintaining Antigua and Barbuda’s status as a global leader in online gambling, and as such it has continued to improve and add to its regulations for licensees.
For instance, when Antigua and Barbuda first began issuing online gambling licenses, there was a significantly higher right of fraud. Through progressive legislation and increased regulations, the FSCR has been able to build the Antigua and Barbuda seal into a respectable qualification to have.
Cons of Sites With an Antigua and Barbuda License
The FSCR has put a significant amount of effort into making their licensees sites appealing to players. However, despite the best efforts of the FSCR, there are still some significant disadvantages facing prospective players. For instance, many sites only use USD. Deposit and payout times can take a long time for US-based players, and many players need to use money transfer options. Also, the process for players filing complaints can be improved.
Most Sites Only Use USD
The official currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, however, most sites operating under an Antigua and Barbuda license accept USD as they typically target US-based players. This can be a disadvantage for players based in countries that do not use USD because players will have to exchange their money.
The process of exchanging currency online can oftentimes include fees, meaning that players will have less money to be able to play with.
Deposit and Payout Times Can Be Delayed for US-Based Players
Another disadvantage for players is that, for players based in the US, the time it takes for deposits to be made to their account can take longer than they would typically expect. This is also true for withdrawing their winnings from their account. The long wait times for deposits and payouts are largely due to the lack of available banking options offered by Antigua and Barbuda licensees.
Need to Use Money Transferring Options for Most Sites
Players also face the disadvantage of needing to use money transferring options for their deposits and withdrawals. Some Antigua and Barbuda sites allow players to use debit or credit cards, those sites are few and far between. This means that players will be subject to fees from the money transferring site they use on top of the taxes they will have to pay on their winnings.
The Complaint Process Is Lacking
A final disadvantage for players is the lack of an adequate complaint process. If a player believes that a licensee has violated the terms of their respective license, then that player can submit a complaint online to the Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Offshore Gaming online here. However, the process has been known to be slow going and does not have a good track record in terms of resolving disputes.
Advantages for Providers of Sites With an Antigua and Barbuda License
In addition to trying to make Antigua and Barbuda stand out to players, the FSCR attempts to make the island nation attractive to providers as well. Antigua and Barbuda offers several advantages to licensees including a licensing process that is relatively quick and inexpensive, providing world-class infrastructure to licensees, creating progress tax law, political stability, and being on the UK Gambling Whitelist.
Licensing Process Is Relatively Quick and Inexpensive
A prospective licensee does not face the same uphill in Antigua and Barbuda that they would elsewhere when it comes to the application process. One advantage for providers is that, as listed in the table above, prospective licensees only need to pay a $15,000 deposit and either $75,000 or $100,000 for an Interactive Wagering License or Interactive Gaming License, respectively. Licensees must also keep at least $100,000 in reserves at all times.
License applicants are required to complete the following forms:
An application for an Interactive Gaming or Interactive Wagering License
A Business Entity Information Packet
A Personal Information Form for each shareholder owning at least 5% of the company
The FSCR claims that after they receive all payment and the necessary forms from the potential licensee, they will make a decision within 60 days. This quick turnaround time is a major advantage for new licensees, especially for companies that are looking to expand into new territory as quickly as they can.
Another advantage for providers using an Antigua and Barbuda license is that they have access to the world-class infrastructure on the islands. A requirement for operating under either an Interactive Gaming or Interactive Wagering License is that the licensee must be incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as have their primary server that conducts transactions.
To accommodate this location requirement, which is a regulation under the IGIWR, licensees are given access to top-of-the-line private servers, cloud storage, and telecommunications equipment.
Progressive Tax Laws
One of the biggest advantages any country can offer to potential license holders is progress tax laws. Antigua and Barbuda offers licenses the chance to qualify for tax-exempt status. Qualifying license holders pay a 0% corporate income tax rate. Licenses are also not required to pay VAT, sales tax, or other gaming duties on gambling operations.
On top of creating a tax system that is attractive to licensees, the country of Antigua and Barbuda also offers political stability. This is an advantage for licenses because it offers assurance that the online gambling friendly legislation will continue to stay that way.
For licensees that are planning to operate in Antigua and Barbuda long-term, the concept of political stability is especially important.
On the UK Whitelist
Placement on the UK whitelist allows for licensees to advertise on UK soil. This offers an advantage for providers with an Antigua and Barbuda license because it allows them to advertise to more potential customers. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda are not permitted to engage in online casino gambling, so the more countries licensees can advertise to the better.
Disadvantages for Providers of Sites With an Antigua and Barbuda License
As with players, providers of sites with an Antigua and Barbuda license still face some disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages include the lack of prestige associated with the Antigua and Barbuda seal of approval, having to compete with casino resorts in the country, and only being able to serve players from other countries.
Antigua and Barbuda Seal Lacks Prestige
One disadvantage providers with an Antigua and Barbuda License face is that the seal of approval from Antigua and Barbuda does not have the same prestige as other countries. This is due in part to how easy it is to obtain a license from Antigua and Barbuda.
Not only are there a large number of licensees, the number is in the hundreds, but historically, the licensees themselves have not always been the most reputable of operations. While Antigua and Barbuda have worked to address these issues, the fact remains that past issues with licensees damage the integrity of the seal of approval for current license holders. This is a disadvantage for providers using an Antigua and Barbuda license.
Competing With Casino Resorts in the Country
While the online gambling industry has been around since 1994, gambling itself was legalized in 1964. As a result, there are several Casino Resorts that are present on the islands. This is a disadvantage for eGambling providers using an Antigua and Barbuda license because it not only increases the number of competitors but also makes it difficult for them to take advantage of the large tourism industry. If tourists are coming to the islands and staying at resorts with casinos already inside of them, then they would have little reason to explore online providers.
Residents of Antigua and Barbuda Are Not Permitted to Engage in E-Gambling
Another disadvantage for providers using an Antigua and Barbuda license is that residents of Antigua and Barbuda are not permitted to engage in online gambling. This is a disadvantage for licensees because it further limits their potential customer base.
For more information regarding online gambling in Antigua and Barbuda, please visit their website or contact them using the information below.
Can I Trust a Site With a License From Antigua and Barbuda?
Antigua and Barbuda has been issuing online gambling licenses since 1994, meaning they are one of the most experienced licensing for eGaming. However, not all of that experience has been positive. Past transgressions by previous licensees may make it hard for some players to trust sites using an Antigua and Barbuda license. However, the current licenses offered by the FSRC are only valid for one year, so any side sporting a valid license does meet the new, more stringent standards of Antigua and Barbuda.
Why Are Antigua and Barbuda in Conflict With the US?
Gambling and online gambling are slowly becoming more acceptable in the US, however, this has not always been the case. Previously, the US did not allow most types of online gambling, even if the hosting site was based outside of the US. This led to a conflict between the US and other countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, when those other countries would allow US citizens to use their sites.
As online gambling became more legal in the US, the US began passing laws that allowed for US-based companies to offer online gambling, such as horse racing, but did not allow for foreign-based companies to offer the same services. Antigua and Barbuda took the issue to the World Trade Organization, WTO, and even won a case against the US. However, the US passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, which made it even more difficult for other countries to offer online gambling services to US citizens.
After another ruling by the WTO, Antigua and Barbuda was given permission to violate the US’ intellectual property rights to pay for damages. This ruling was made in part due to the US refusing to comply with the international law the WTO was trying to enforce. More information regarding this issue can be found here on the WTO’s website.
What Taxes Will I Have to Pay on My Winnings?
Players using Antigua and Barbuda licensed sites do not have to pay taxes on their winnings while their money is deposited in their accounts. However, once a player withdraws the money from their account, they will have to pay taxes to their own country based on their country’s tax system.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that players may have to use money transferring and or converting options that could have their own fees associated with them.
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