The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court alleging contravention of s 15(2A) of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) by:
- Rhys Edward Jones, who provided prohibited online gambling services to Australians from March 2020 to March 2021;
- Diverse Link Pty Ltd (Diverse Link), which provided those services from March 2021 to the present; and
- Brenton Lee Buttigieg, who was involved in promoting and referring customers to those services.
This action follows a detailed ACMA investigation into the prohibited online gambling services, which originally operated under the name ‘PPPfish’, but subsequently rebranded to ‘Shuffle Gaming’ and later ‘Redraw Poker’. The ACMA alleges that these were online poker services which is a type of gambling service that is prohibited under s 5 of the IGA.
The ACMA alleges that, since 2 March 2020, the services provided by Jones and then Diverse Link offered Australians the ability to play poker online for money. Players join poker clubs through a mobile app, can then purchase chips from separate websites, via bank transfer or bitcoin, which are then credited to their account in the poker club and can be used to play poker. Chips can then be redeemed for money or bitcoin.
The ACMA is responsible for enforcing prohibitions against the provision or advertising of illegal interactive gambling services in Australia.
For the alleged contraventions, the maximum penalties payable by an individual is up to $1.665 million per contravention, and five times that amount for companies.
As this matter is before the Court, the ACMA will not be providing any further comment.