A New Licensing Scheme in Vanuatu

20 March 2003

The online gambling licensing jurisdiction of Vanuatu will now offer a less expensive license for sports books and betting exchanges.

The new sports betting license has an application fee of US$35,000 and an annual fee of US$30,000. The island, which is four hours east of Australia, also offers a casino gaming license for a US$75,000 application fee and a US$50,000 annual fee.

Simon Fletcher, the manager of Interactive Gaming Consultants Ltd., which oversees and regulates the online gaming industry in Vanuatu, said they wanted to distinguish between sports books and casinos in a way that would make the island a more attractive licensing jurisdiction for online bookies.

"We are pleased with the recent introduction of a new licensing and fee structure in Vanuatu, particularly in light of the bourgeoning person-to-person and fixed odds wagering market," Fletcher said.

Vanuatu is also introducing a 0.1 percent turnover tax on net revenue for online bookmakers and operators of betting exchanges. Online casinos will remain at their present tax level, which is 2.5 percent of net gaming revenue.

Fletcher said these changes in policy are due to an amendment in Vanuatu's interactive gaming legislation that was passed in January. He said all the changes are for the purpose of bringing more licensees to the island.

"[Vanuatu] now offers an extremely attractive package for operators seeking a low-cost pricing model in a well-regulated jurisdiction," he said.

Vanuatu also recently announced that Asia Pacific Totalisators Ltd. is the first recipient of the new sports book license. Michael Dowd, director of the company, said they will be offering pari-mutuel and racing services. The group is the betting agent of the Queensland Tote in Australia.

"Our company is looking forward to expanding our pre-existing tote business in Vanuatu, following our successful application for an interactive gaming license here," Dowd said.

Anne Lindner can be reached at anne@rivercitygroup.com.