Cameroon, officially known as the Republic of Cameroon, is a country located in West Africa, with a population of over 26 million according to the most recent collected data. When it comes to gambling, the country has permitted a few forms of gambling but there are also plenty of activities that remain unregulated as there are no laws that properly govern gambling in Cameroon.
There are a few land-based casinos in the country, with the majority of them targeting tourists as the casinos are located in hotel resorts that are typically visited by foreign tourists. There are suggestions for amendments in the current laws that set the legal framework for regulating gambling in Cameroon. The reason for that is the outdated piece of legislation that is currently setting the terms for gambling operations in the country.
A new piece of legislation could also contribute to a regulation of online gambling which is currently an unregulated activity. As gambling facilities are also considered by many as places that only support money laundering and corruption, the Cameroonian government is hoping to implement stricter laws that will properly regulate this sector.
While the limited internet penetration in the country contributes to a rather low interest in online gambling, those who have access to the internet might often resort to placing wagers online. Naturally, as there are no laws prohibiting or controlling such activities, many Cameroonians resort to playing on foreign websites, often risking their safety as there are no laws that can currently protect them.
Gambling Regulations in Cameroon
Land-based casinos are legal in Cameroon, with companies that wish to run such facilities being required to apply for gaming licenses. Currency, there are several big casinos operating across Cameroon, with most of them being located in the capital Yaounde as well as in Douala. The types of games that one could find at the brick-and-mortar casinos include standard table games like roulette and blackjack, poker tables, and slot machines.
The current piece of legislation that is governing gambling in Cameroon was enacted in 1998 and was amended in 2004. Unfortunately, it is still quite outdated as it does not include any legal definitions of online gambling and the way it is supposed to be regulated by Cameroonian authorities.
Obtaining Concession Agreement for Gambling Operations in Cameroon
To be able to run casinos, betting shops, or lotteries in Cameroon, operators must obtain a concession agreement from the local authorities. The most basic conditions that operators must meet to be able to provide regulated gambling activities in the African country include being of a legal age of maturity, which is 18 years in Cameroon, having no criminal record, and being of good morality.
Providing games of chance in Cameroon is divided into three stages that include concession agreement, issuing an authorization, and declaration agreement. If companies want to offer gambling activities in land-based casinos, lottery, or betting shops in Cameroon, then they will need to acquire a concession agreement. It must be signed by the Minister who is responsible for regulating gambling and the operator that will offer gambling services. The maximum time of validity of a concession agreement is capped at 10 years, with operators having the opportunity to renew the agreement. When applying for this type of authorization, the company must clarify the type of gaming activities that will be offered, the opening and closing hours of the facility, and the technical specifications of the games that will be provided.
The conditions for a concession renewal are exactly the same but not meeting one of the requirements might cost an operator the renewal of the concession agreement. It is possible that companies will be refused a concession due to safety concerns, national defense, or public security, or in case of the operator not meeting the technical or financial requirements to run such business.
Gambling Related Taxes in Cameroon
One of the reasons for Cameroon to legalize gambling is to help the struggling economy of the country. The Cameroonian government has introduced a tax that specifically applies to casino operators in the country. The proceeds of two different types of games are subject to taxation. The first one is known as counterpart games, representing the amount collected at the end of the game, minus the initial stakes wagered on the said game. The second type of game is club games and it includes the entire amount of the prize pool.
Casino games in Cameroon have their tax base composed of the gross income generated through the games as well as different proceeds that are registered with the accounting records of every game. Operators who run casinos are required to keep accounting records for every game type they offer.
The tax rate for casino games in Cameroon is 15% and it is applied to the profit generated during the tax period. The tax rate of 15% applies to games of chance as well as games of entertainment. The tax on gambling revenue is not relevant to any other taxes that casino operators may be required to pay to the Council that collects the taxes in their respective area of operation.
Operators must pay their casino taxes within the period of 15 days following the taxable period. Prior to paying their taxes, companies operating casinos will need to fill out a specific form that will be available at the taxation center of the respective operator.
If operators are not able to pay their taxes on time or fail to pay them at all, they will be subjected to penalties determined in the Manual of Tax Procedures of the General Tax Code. Operators can install new gaming machines during the fiscal year on the proviso that they fill out an additional tax return form and pay the respective tax within the 30 days that follow the filling out of the form.
Tax Licenses on Casino Machines
Once operators present a receipt at the respective tax service, they are given a tax license that is issued to every machine. This license must be displayed on every machine or otherwise the operator will have to pay a penalty fine. If the acquired license is not visible on every machine, the fine that needs to be paid amounts to 25,000 CFA francs per single machine.
Since casino machines fall under different categories, each type of machine has its specific tax license. If operators display a license that applies to a machine of a lower category than the one of the actual machine, the company will need to pay the remaining amount of the tax license along with a fine of 50% of the tax. If an operator is found to display fake machine licenses, the fine that will be imposed will be equivalent to two times the tax amount.
Like other countries in Africa, Cameroon has a rather interesting relationship with gambling. Most gambling activities have been legalized in the country through a law that passed in 1998. While there were some amendments in the law in 2004, it is still quite outdated and unable to keep up with the technological development that has taken over the gambling industry.
Currently, companies are allowed to operate casinos, lotteries, and betting shops in Cameroon. To do that, they need to apply for a concession agreement from the local authorities. At the moment of writing this article, there are several brick-and-mortar casinos in the country, with the most prominent ones located in Yaounde and Douala.
While land-based gambling has been legalized, the current law does not mention online gambling in any way. This leads to a very vague legal status for online gambling in Cameroon. While the law does not regulate virtual gambling, it also does not deem it illegal. This enables many Cameroonians to simply load offshore online casinos and start playing without worrying about any legal consequences.
Due to the limited internet penetration in the country, online gambling is still not that popular in Cameroon. Despite that, those who have access to the internet often resort to online gambling as the local authorities do not impose any legal restrictions on this type of activity.