Vanuatu unveils new online gambling licensing framework

Vanuatu unveils new online gambling licensing framework
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The island nation of Vanuatu has introduced a new online licensing framework for the gambling industry, allowing applications to be submitted entirely online. 

During an event in Port Vila, the nation's capital, Minister for Finance John Salong and Macyn White, CEO of the Vanuatu Gaming Authority (VGA), launched the updated regulations under the Vanuatu Interactive Gaming Act. These amendments update the licensing system that dates back to 1993.

The new framework targets operators interested in pre-regulated markets, aiming to streamline the application process. The online portal, administered by the newly established VGA, is designed to reduce processing times while conducting thorough background checks on applicants.

Key details about the new license include a €5,000 ($5,370) application fee, a €10,000 ($10,700) annual license fee, a 15-year validity period from the initial issuance, and a 1% Wagering Activity Tax on Gross Gaming Revenue.

The Vanuatu Department of Customs and Inland Revenue will regulate the gambling sector, with applications processed by VGA Limited under a public-private partnership.

Minister Salong said: "While creating the new framework, we were guided by the ever-stricter compliance requirements the eGaming industry operates under. It was clear from the outset that our new regulations had to strike an important balance between complying with the highest standards and leaving licensees sufficient freedoms to do what they do best: operate their businesses."

The new license primarily targets B2C operators, allowing two URLs per license, with additional URLs available for a fee. This facilitates the operation of White Label brands similar to other jurisdictions like the Isle of Man.

Minister Salong added: "Our new application process has been designed to ensure timely processing while at the same time allowing for strict background checks prior to any license application being granted.

"Leveling up our regulatory framework to ensure Vanuatu can once again play a leading role as a trusted and stable eGaming jurisdiction forms a key part of our future economic strategy."

The VGA has stated that once an application is submitted and meets the required standards, it will proceed to processing. If deemed unsuitable, the application will be returned for revision. Processing of new applications is set to begin in early July, with further announcements to follow.