stub Antigua and Barbuda FSRC Licences (May 2024)
Connect with us

Licenses

Antigua and Barbuda FSRC Licences (May 2024)

Updated on

Antigua and Barbuda FSRC

Gambling in Antigua and its twin island, Barbuda, is regulated by the Gaming Division of the Financial Services Regulatory Commission, or FSRC. Set up in 1994, it was among the first jurisdictions to regulate gambling, giving out licences to operators. These companies, which are classified as Financial Institutions, can obtain licences by complying with the International Business Corporations (IBC) Act and the Interactive Gaming and Interactive Wagering Regulations (IGIWR). Once a company is granted the Preferential Seal, it is fully legitimate and has an active licence with the FSRC Gaming Division.

History of Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is an independent commonwealth country that consists of two large islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a handful of smaller islands. Approximately 100,000 people live in the country, of which 97% live in Antigua. It was a British colony, from the 17th century until 1981 when Antigua and Barbuda became a sovereign country. However, it is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations and remains a constitutional monarchy.

How Offshore Companies are Regulated

Antigua and Barbuda was the first nation to sign the United Nations anti-money laundering act, opening up the possibility for international business companies to set up shop on the island. In 1999, the Gaming Division of the FSRC set up a new licensing body, the Directorate of Offshore Gaming. This division could grant IGIWR licences to online casinos, on the condition that they meet all the requirements and have a registered address on the island. The main goals of the Directorate are “Money Laundering Prevention”, “Player Protection” and “Industry Enhancement”.

Types of Licences

The Directorate offers operators two types of licences: the Interactive Gaming Licence and the Interactive Wagering Licence.

Interactive Gaming Licence

This licence gives the operator permission to run an online casino, with games such as video poker, slots, and more. These games need to have proof that they use random number generators, that is, they are not rigged.

Interactive Wagering Licence

This licence allows operators to open a sportsbook. Within the sportsbook, operators can provide betting services to players.

Application and Cost

There are strict conditions that companies need to fulfil to apply for either licence. They need to have a registered address on the island and state whether there are shareholders with 5% ownership or more. The company then needs to pay $15,000 for due diligence and for the Directorate to conduct investigations and assess the application. This $15,000 is non-refundable and needs to be submitted for either licence. 

Once the first phase has been approved, the company must submit the Business Entity Information package. After that, the company needs to submit the Personal Information form. This needs to be filled out by each key person, director, partner and chief executive officer, including each shareholder owning 5% or more of the company. The cost for an Interactive Gaming Licence is $100,000, and the cost for an Interactive Wagering Licence is $75,000. There are additional fees for the Key Person Licence, the Reserve Requirement, and the Monitoring System Fee.

Fees List

  • Due Diligence: $15,000 one-time payment
  • Interactive Gaming Licence: $100,000 for the first year, $5,000 for the second year onwards
  • Interactive Wagering Licence: $75,000 for the first year, $5,000 for the second year onwards
  • Key Person Licence Fees: $1,000 for the first year and $250 from the second year and onwards
  • Reserve Requirement: $100,000 one-time payment (must be paid to the commission as a security for players, it is refunded to the company if it ceases its operations)
  • Monitoring System Fee: $25,000 per year for one licence, $45,000 per year for two licences

Obtaining a licence is quite dear, especially with the monitoring fees. The $100,000 reserve has to be left as collateral, which is also technically a fee as operators cannot touch it until they cease their operations. The charges can add up, especially considering they do not include the price of buying a domain, renting or buying a physical address in Antigua, maintenance, and any other charge. So why is Antigua such a hotspot for offshore companies?

The Directorate states that applications can get approval within 60 days of submitting the required documents. In terms of obtaining a casino or sportsbook licence, that is extremely fast. The other not-so-little advantage is the progressive tax laws in Antigua and Barbuda. Licencees qualify for tax-exempt status, which means operators can run their businesses and reap their profits without paying any tax.

Pros for Players

Obtaining an Antigua and Barbuda licence has many benefits for providers, so what can it offer players?

Highly Reliable

A casino must pay you what you win. The reserve is put in place by the FSRC to ensure players will get paid under any and all circumstances.

Proven to be Fair

Operators must have regular checks from auditors, ensuring the games are using RNGs. This means that any new content is always safe to play.

Anti-Fraud Measures

In the past, a lot of businesses took advantage of the FSRC laws and therefore there was a higher level of fraud. The nation has cracked down on these companies and set strict laws about money laundering and fraudulent activity. Nowadays, any company running with the Preferential Seal is a fully legitimate business and safe to use.

Cons for Players

Operators regulated by the FSRC are safe and fair to play at. Now let's look at some of the cons for players.

Less Popular

Whilst the Antigua and Barbuda gaming licence can provide operators with great benefits, it is not popular. This is due to fraudulent operations in the past and to the limited jurisdictions that recognise the licence. If you find a casino that is licensed by Antigua and Barbuda, on the whole, you may expect certain limitations. These can be limits on the games, developers that provide the games, limited banking options, limited currencies that can be used, and more.

Deposit and Withdrawal Times

Withdrawing your money may take a few more days than you might have to at a casino operating under another licence.

Complaint Service

Whilst you can make complaints directly to the Directorate of Offshore Gaming, do not expect any swift replies. It may take a few days for them to process your dispute and find out how it can be resolved.

Where the Licence is Recognised

Antigua and Barbuda is a white-listed jurisdiction for the UK. This means that licencees can advertise their services to the UK market. In 2010, THe FSRC made a deal with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to allow operators from either jurisdiction to run their business in the other. A company regulated by Antigua and Barbuda can operate in Kahnawake, and vice-versa.

Antigua and Barbuda licences are not recognised in the US. Operators that advertise in Kahnawake or the UK cannot target US-based players. In addition, residents of Antigua and Barbuda cannot gamble online.

Conclusion

Casinos and sportsbooks operating under the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda are rare. You will not find many, but the ones you do are guaranteed to provide fair games and have security measures to ensure you will receive your withdrawals. It remains to be seen whether more jurisdictions will add Antigua and Barbuda to their white-lists, which would be the next step to making this licence more global.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.