Belize Poker Laws

belizeBelize is a small country in Central America with a very modest population of only 340,000 people. It is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, owing to it being a former British possession, which was the case all the way up to 1981 when Belize gained their independence. (1)

Gambling is legal in Belize although they just have a couple of casinos, they do get a lot of tourists here and tourism is the second biggest industry here, but the focus is on eco tourism due to the wide ecological diversity here as well as its natural beauty, and few people come here to gamble, so that combined with their small population keeps the gambling sector here rather small. (2)

There are no issues with gambling all you want here though, even on the internet, and Belize made online gambling legal all the way back in 1996, well before online poker even came on the scene, at the time where online casinos started to emerge.

They also sought to regulate online gambling way back then and do offer licenses to online gambling operators, and currently regulate a total of 30 sites, with a big focus on financial trading online sites, although they also license several online casinos and a few online sportsbooks as well. (3)

As far as land based gambling goes, the two casinos they have here are on the small side, with a total of only 7 casino gambling tables between them, and the focus here is on slot machines, more so than you find at other casinos, and while the Palace Casino only has 30, the larger Belize Casino boasts 400, and when you consider they only have 3 gaming tables to go along with this, gamblers in Belize really do prefer slots. (4)

As far as the licensed online sites here, this is such a small market and the licensing process isn’t seen as that friendly to offshore gambling operations and the goal here has been to develop the domestic market here as far as licensing online sites, in other words sites run by people from Belize for people from Belize.

 

Playing Poker In Belize

So this strategy of licensure does provide at least some opportunity for the online gambling industry in Belize in running sites such as online casinos, forex sites, and to a lesser extent, betting sites, and the first two don’t really require much of a player base to operate effectively.

Sports betting does to some degree, but poker really does, and while you can find casino poker run at some of these sites, playing against the house in other words, they just don’t have the player equity to operate a successful in house poker room, as even though the game of poker has really increased in popularity in Belize over the last few years, they just don’t have the population to support it.

It is at least possible for them to change their regulatory framework to allow for international sites to be licensed there and look to capture some of that action while still letting players play on the big international sites, as has been done in some smaller countries, the framework as it exists is way too old school at present, and Belize is so small that it’s doubtful that this would be of any interest to the larger online poker sites anyway, and probably not even be with the smaller ones.

There are some online poker sites that have stopped accepting players from Belize for this reason, due to the fact that they actually have online gambling regulation which they are not interested in so on that basis they see this as a grey market, even though it doesn’t function as one and players freely play online poker here.

However, this is not the case with all of the top sites though and overall the online poker scene in Belize is a pretty good one if you know the best places to play at living here, information which we will share with you in a moment.

The game of poker has taken off in popularity in Belize due to the large presence it has on the internet, but one event of note really impacted it, when countryman Bob Bounahra made the final table of the World Series of Poker main event in 2011. This received a fair bit of media coverage in Belize and Bounahra has become somewhat of a celebrity not only in Belize but in Central America. (5)

There is a little live poker here at the Princess Casino, which has a dedicated poker room with 6 tables, and there’s also a fair number of home games that run here, and with poker legal here, things are more out in the open than in a lot of countries where it is not and you have to steer clear of the authorities. (6)

 

Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Belize

Other than that, there’s always online poker of course and online poker is available and fairly popular here. There are two online poker sites in particular that are well worth trying out if you live here and have not tried them out as of yet.

888 Poker is believed by many to be the finest online poker site in the world overall, and they do have a lot of things going for them, including a lot of traffic and action at any time of the day or night, a wide selection of games including some innovative ones, fairly loose competition, and some great rewards, including both a bonus offer for making a deposit and even one that you can get without making a deposit yet.

Black Chip Poker is another very good choice for online poker players from Belize, the traffic here is more modest but still more than sufficient, they also reward first time depositors as well as regulars, and the competition here is even softer. This is a poker site a lot of people haven’t heard of yet but they are a very good site overall and worth checking out for sure.

 

References:

1. Belize

2. Tourism in Belize

3. Online Gambling in Belize

4. Belize Casinos

5. Poker Dispatches: India, Belize, New Zealand, Anhedonia 

6. Belize Poker

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