Australian Regulator Takes Alleged Illegal Online Poker Providers to Federal Court

  • The penalty per contravention per individual could reach AU$1.67m (US$1.2m)
  • The online poker brands investigated included PPPfish, Shuffle Gaming, Redraw Poker
  • Jones, Diverse Link allegedly offered services for Aussies to play poker online for money
  • It continues a busy start to 2022 for the ACMA which has already fined Sportsbet
The Federal Court of Australia
Two individuals and a linked firm could be in hot water after an Australian regulator announced Tuesday it was taking them to Federal Court for allegedly operating illegal online poker services. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two individuals named

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken two individuals and an interlinked service provider to Federal Court for allegedly operating illegal online poker services.

According to Inside Asian Gaming, the ACMA has launched legal action against “two well-known local poker identities.” The regulator has named these individuals as Rhys Edward Jones and Brenton Lee Buttigieg.

Buttigieg allegedly promoted the illegal services

Jones supposedly offered Australians illegal online poker from March 2020 to March 2021. Meanwhile, Buttigieg allegedly promoted the illegal services and directed customers towards them. The regulator also accuses the entity Diverse Link Pty Ltd of picking up the provision of the illegal services from March 2021 to present.

An ACMA Tuesday news release confirmed that the financial penalty for each individual per transgression could reach as much as AU$1.67m (US$1.2m). The punishment for Diverse Link could amount to AU$8.32m (US$5.9m).

Online poker sites probed

Media and communications regulator the ACMA took to Twitter Tuesday to share news of its civil penalty action:

According to the official ACMA news release, the legal proceedings come after a detailed investigation into an online poker brand originally named PPPfish. A later rebrand saw the service renamed Shuffle Gaming and, later, Redraw Poker.

purchase chips from separate websites, via bank transfer or bitcoin.”

Since March 2, 2020, the ACMA alleges, Jones and Diverse Link provided Australians with services that allowed them to play poker online for money. According to the regulator, individuals could “join poker clubs through a mobile app […] then purchase chips from separate websites, via bank transfer or bitcoin.”

In doing so, the ACMA alleges that the three online brands contravened subsection 15(2A) of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA).

A busy 2022 already

According to the news release, as the case is currently before the Federal Court, the ACMA won’t issue any further comment on the proceedings at this time. It’s already proven a busy 2022 for the authority, however.

In February, the ACMA’s actions resulted in Sportsbet receiving a fine of AU$2.5m (US$1.8m) for flouting Australia’s spam laws – the largest fine of its kind. Despite the ACMA’s warnings, Sportsbet sent 150,000+ emails and texts to individuals who had tried to unsubscribe.