Starting a Game of Chance Business in Cameroon

Brief: Let’s talk about the gambling business in Cameroon – specifically casinos that have specific tax law provisions.

Given the frequent demands by readers on gambling and games of chance in Cameroon, we have decided to put down something on it. Business is business, even though gambling is not one of the things I cherish. However, so long as we are into business and it falls within the law, we have to do what is necessary – give out the right information to the public.

If you are reading this, take note: We do not provide tax, legal or financial advice well as advice concerning the right interpretation of the legislation on gambling. We are here to give you information that may assist you develop your business ideas. It is up to you to get your own legal or business advice when it comes to gambling businesses.

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Online gambling has seen an increase in popularity in the past years with many sport betting sites being implanted in the country. The country’s laws permit gambling and games of chance, even though you find very little regulations put in place. This has paved the way for websites dedicated to gambling to install themselves comfortably with no restrictions.

In fact, Cameroon has no laws or regulations for or against any type online gambling. Unlike online gambling, land-based gambling in Cameroon is licensed and legal to operate. There are legislations put in pace to regulate their activities. However, the government is putting efforts to regulate the sector.

Based on 2015 statistics by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, there are 18 licensed gaming operators in Cameroon with majority in the towns of Douala and Yaounde. According to the statistics, you have 7 casinos, 4 gaming machine halls and 7 lottery and betting shops.

License to run a gambling business in Cameroon

gambling business in Cameroon

Decree No 2019/2300/PM of 18 July 2019, spells out the modalities of running games of chance business in Cameroon. It puts in place the conditions, rules, regulations and procedures for obtaining a concession agreement and authorization for games of chance.
In order to carry run a casino, betting and lottery company in Cameroon, you need to have your business registered. That is why we are first going to get a basics on how to incorporate a company in Cameroon and obtain a business license.

Just like every other business, games of chance and entertainment pay taxes to the state and councils. The tax shall be paid by both natural persons or corporate bodies that operate a gambling business in Cameroon as a primary or a secondary activity. It can be for winnings in cash or kind as well as meant purely for entertainment.

Specific tax provisions for casinos in Cameroon

The tax administration in Cameroon has put in place specific tax legislation for those operating casinos in Cameroon. According to the provisions, proceeds of the games include:

  • Counterpart games – The difference between the initial stakes that were put in place and the amounts actually collected at the end of the game and
  • Club games – the entire amount of the pot

The tax base for casino businesses in Cameroon comprises all gross proceeds from the games and other miscellaneous incomes that are consistent with the accounting records of each game type. It should be noted that the operator is obliged to keep accounting records for each type of game. The terms are defined by regulation.

Concession agreement for Casino, betting & lottery companies

To carry out gaming activities in Cameroon, you must:

  • have attained the age of maturity
  • have never been imprisoned for violence or threats of violence
  • Be of good morality

Games of chance in Cameroon have been put under three regimes:

  • Concession agreement
  • Issuing an Authorization
  • Declaration Agreement

Bet’s, casinos and lotteries fall under the concession agreement regime that is signed by the Minister in charge of games of chance and the promoter after getting the confirmation from the Games Regulation Agency. The duration of the concession agreement is ten (10) years and renewable under specific conditions.

It should be noted that the conditions for getting a concession agreement are the same as the ones for renewal. However, if you fail to meet up with one of the conditions, it may cause you not to get a renewal.

Tax rate for games of chance & games of entertainment

The tax rate that is applied on casino business in Cameroon is 15% on turnover made during the tax period. As said above, the tax base comprises all gross proceeds of the games and miscellaneous incomes. This rate applies on games of chance and games of entertainment in Cameroon.

The tax shall be deducted in order to obtain the taxable income and wont be exclusive of other taxes specific to operators of this sector towards the Council area where they carry out their activities. Natural or legal persons liable to pay the tax are obliged to declare at the competent tax service of the area.

Payment of taxes & penalties

In order not to be penalized if you are running a casino business in Cameroon, you have to pay your tax within fifteen days following the month of the taxable operations. There is a special form available at the taxation center of the operator to be filled before payment.

If the operator fails to pay on time or doesn’t pay at all, they shall be punished according to provisions put in place in the Manual of Tax Procedures. In case the operator installs new machines within the fiscal year, (s)he has to file an additional tax return form and pay the tax within 30 days following the day of filing.

Tax license

Each machine is issued a tax license which is done upon presentation of a receipt at the competent tax service. The tax license must be displayed visibly on each machine without which a penalty will be placed. Failure to display the tax license calls for a fine of 25,000 francs CFA per machine.

Machines are divided into specific categories and each category has its own tax license. Those who display a license for a category lower than required shall be obliged to pay the remainder of the tax as well as pay a fine equivalent to 50% of the tax. Fake licenses will carry a fine twice the amount of the tax without prejudice to legal actions that may be taken.

The case of operators who are not based in Cameroon

There’s a special provision for operators whose head office is located out of the country. Such operators are bound to make a deposit at a bank in Cameroon. The amount of the deposit is determined by the Minister in Charge of Finance.

The government of Cameroon has since been using the Finance Law to regulate gambling business in Cameroon (land-based gambling in particular). However, with the advent of online gambling, inventions and innovations, gaming formats and other aspects, we should be expecting to get changes and new regulations.

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Source(s): General tax Code | Directorate General of Taxation | Latest Casino Bonuses | Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

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