GAMBLERS LOG ON TO VANUATU

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SYDNEY, Australia (January 3, 2002 – Sydney Morning Herald/PINA Nius Online)---International gamblers will be able to bet with Kerry and James Packer in cyberspace beginning today. But Australians will be barred from playing at Publishing & Broadcasting's Vanuatu-based online casino, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Australian Government has banned local companies from offering online gaming to Australians.

To comply with the legislation and to stitch up the lucrative Asian market, http://crowngames.com, based in Port Vila, will target gamblers from that region, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Company chairman James Packer has said that Vanuatu is not the company's preferred location for its online casino. He blamed regulatory hurdles for making it too difficult to establish an operation in Australia.

Vanuatu's low tax rate of 2.5 percent is a further incentive for Australian operators seeking to circumvent the legislative ban, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

The US$ 45,000 license fee the Vanuatu Government charges online casino operators is considered low compared to the potential financial rewards to be reaped from taking bets over the Internet.

For additional reports from The New Zealand Herald, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ New Zealand Herald.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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