Vanuatu Gambling Laws
By Reno Rollins
Casino gambling, the lottery, slot machines and online gambling are all legal in Vanuatu. This was not always the case, however, as the island nation prohibited gambling as late as 1988. Online gaming licenses did not become available until 1999.
In 2000, the Electronic Transactions Act was created to set up the rules for making a legal contract using digital records. The E-Business Act also served to set up a free trade zone where businesses could conduct activities over the Internet. Foreign companies or individuals are allowed to set up a website based in Vanuatu without having to create an international corporation.
In March of 2003, the government released an amendment to make interactive gaming legislation more competitive for betting exchanges and sportsbooks. This brought about a new licensing fee structure, restricting operations to Event Wagering - Fixed Odds, P2P or Parimutuel.
Internet casinos in Vanuatu have also benefited from Australia’s Interactive Gambling Bill which forbids Australian-based Internet gaming companies to offer their services to Australian residents.
There are currently two casinos in operation in Vanuatu. They are:
- Club 21 Limited (Melanesian Hotel, Port Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu) Open daily from 10am until 2:30am, this casino offers 66 gaming machines (including Anchor‘s Wheel of Gold). There is also an eighty-five room hotel and two restaurants. For more information, call +678 257 03.
- Le Meridien Port Vila The Palms Casino (Tassiriki Park, Port Vila, Shefa, Vanuatu) Open Monday thru Thursday from 12:30pm until 2am and Friday and Saturday from 12:30pm until 3am. The casino offers 63 gaming machines and 9 table games (including blackjack, roulette and mini-baccarat). There is also one restaurant and a hotel with 147 rooms. For more information, call +678 220 40, or visit their website at www.lemeridien.com.
Online Gambling in Vanuatu
Vanuatu offers online gaming licenses for lotteries, casinos and sports books. These licenses became available in 1999. Before a company can be granted a license, they must undergo a thorough background check. Sportsbooks are then required to pay a $35,000 application fee and $30,000 license fee, while other types of gaming operators must pay $75,000 and an annual license fee of $50,000. Afterwards, they must then pay a tax of 2.5% on gross gaming profits and a 0.1% turnover tax on fixed odds betting.
There are currently two online gaming operators based out of Vanuatu. They are:
- Dialabet Sports Betting
Lottery in Vanuatu
According to the Lotteries Amendment Act of 1994, any person may promote or conduct an instant lottery or pool betting scheme subject to the terms and conditions of a license issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
An instant lottery is defined as a lottery in which a person pays or becomes liable to pay stake money in exchange for a thing that can be manipulated to reveal whether or not a prize has won. A pool betting scheme is defined as a lottery in which a group of people bet on terms that the amount of a prize is wholly or partly determined by reference to the total amount of stake money paid or payable by the persons who make up the group.
Facts About Vanuatu
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Vanuatu is situated some 1,090 miles east of Australia and 310 miles northeast of New Caledonia. The nation of Vanuatu is comprised of 83 islands, with 14 having a surface area greater than 38.6 square miles. These include:
- Espiritu Santo
Since 1994, the island nation has been divided into six provinces. These include:
Europeans first reached the islands in 1606, when Portuguese explorers Pedro Fernandes de Queiros and Luis Vaez de Torres landed. It was not until the late 18th century that Europeans began settling the islands (originally named New Hebrides by British explorer James Cook).
The islands came under a joint French-British naval commission in 1887. Due to diseases introduced by the new European population, the population of the islands had dwindled to 45,000 by 1935.
During World War II, several of the islands were used as military bases by the Allied forces. Citizens started to press for independence in the 1960s, and full sovereignty was granted in 1980. Vanuatu joined the United Nations in 1981.
The three official languages of the islands are English, French and Bislama. 113 indigenous languages are also spoken in Vanuatu. Nearly seventy-eight percent of the population speaks French.
Tourism, fishing, offshore financial services and cattle farming serve as the backbone of the economy. In 1997, it was estimated that 50,000 tourists visited the islands each year, and efforts have been made in recent years to increase this number.
As a tax haven, Vanuatu has no income tax, withholding tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and no exchange controls. This has led to a number of companies locating their businesses in Vanuatu to avoid legal problems and regulation.
The population of the island is estimated to be 221,506. Many of the island’s residents live in rural areas, with most being of Melanesian descent. Other ethnic groups include Asians, Europeans and Pacific Islanders.
Christianity is the dominant religion in Vanuatu, with the most common denominations being Presbyterian, Catholic and Anglican. Other religious groups include the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Neil Thomas Ministries, Islam and the Church of Christ.
The most popular sport in Vanuatu is cricket.
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