LAs part of its long-running crackdown on unlicensed iGaming operators and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that it has commenced civil actions in federal court against a trio of entities.
The media and communications watchdog used an official press release to detail that it is taking Rhys Edward Jones to court amid claims that the individual had provided Australians with access to unlicensed online poker services for the year to March of 2021. The regulator explained that its proceedings also involve iGaming operator Diverse Link Proprietary Limited as well as Brenton Lee Buttigieg, who is alleged to have promoted the illicit enterprise and referred punters to its domain.
The ACMA disclosed that it is seeking a judgement that the trio’s activities had contravened Section 15(2A) of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which could see Jones and Buttigieg hit with penalties for each individual infraction of approximately $1.19 million. The steward noted that a successful prosecution could moreover involve Diverse Link Proprietary Limited being ordered to forfeit up to $5.95 million.
Established in July of 2005, the ACMA declared that its actions follow the conclusion of ‘a detailed investigation’ into the unlicensed iGaming service initially branded under the PPPfish moniker. The watchdog stated that this enterprise later changed its name to Shuffle Gaming before being rechristened as Redraw Poker and had offered ‘online poker services’ that were prohibited under Section 15(2A) of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.
The ACMA alleged that the services provided by Jones and then Diverse Link Proprietary Limited had offered iGaming aficionados in Australia the ability to play online poker for money under the guise of free-play entertainment. The regulator furthermore pronounced that this unlicensed enterprise saw punters provided with access to a mobile-friendly app that linked to a separate website where chips could be purchased or redeemed via bank transfer or Bitcoin.
A statement from the ACMA read…
“The ACMA alleges that since March 2, 2020, the services provided by Jones and then Diverse Link Proprietary Limited had offered Australians the ability to play poker online for money. The ACMA is responsible for enforcing prohibitions against the provision or advertising of illegal interactive gambling services in Australia. As this matter is before the court, the ACMA will not be providing any further comment.”
It is currently illegal to offer games of online poker to players in Australia although the move from the ACMA comes as some businesses and prominent iGaming operators are lobbying for this prohibition to be abandoned. However, this blanket ban has really only been fully enforced since 2016 when the government of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull passed legislation to substantially increased the regulator’s penalty and enforcement capabilities.