Aussies face $1 million fines for running illegal online poker rooms

Posted: April 26, 2022, 6:09 a.m.

Last update: April 26, 2022, 06:09 a.m.

Online poker remains illegal in Australia, although it finds a legitimate place in many developed countries. Due to its status, however, two men and a company face heavy fines for offering online gambling halls.

The Sydney Opera House in Australia is a symbol of the country. Online poker, however, is not, and the ACMA is going after a trio that illegally offered online card rooms. (Image: Getty Images)

The game of poker has had a difficult legal past, mainly due to the inability of some in positions of authority to understand the game. maybe caught up. That wasn’t the case, however, as poker’s Black Friday 2011 proved in the United States.

While online poker is making a comeback in the US, France, Spain and other countries, Australia isn’t quite there yet. The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) bans online gambling halls, but a trio of Australians ignored the rules. They will now be held accountable for their actions and face million dollar fines.

The house of cards is collapsing

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that it is prosecuting two people and a company for breaching anti-online poker regulations. Rhys Edward Jones reportedly ran a site from March 2020 to March 2021. A company known as Diverse Link launched its platform when Jones ended its run and is said to still be in business today. Brenton Lee Buttigieg is in trouble for the promotion of both operations.

The ACMA explains that after launching a “detailed” investigation, it has identified PPPFish as a site offering illegal poker. This company then became Shuffle Gaming before changing its name again to Redraw Poker.

Players were able to join using various downloadable apps and could purchase tokens via bank transfer or cryptocurrency. Conversely, players could withdraw funds using the same methods.

A thread on Reddit from a few years ago described PPPFish as a “group of trusted (sic) clubs working together in Australia…” At one point there may have been more than 15 active clubs, according to a poster using PPPFish’s nickname. Today, there are still international organizations linked to PPPFish.

The operation wasn’t just in Australia, however. The poster added that there were similar setups in Brazil, Israel, India and the United States. Redraw Poker, the third iteration of the platform, is still online and describes itself as a “global union of poker”. It always links to the name PPPFish – its download instructions refer to an app called PPPoker.

It’s time to pay the piper

The ACMA hits Jones, Diverse Link and Buttigieg with civil penalties for violating the IGA. Their willingness to break the law comes at a high cost, as the fines are substantial.

Each violation carries a fine of 1.665 million Australian dollars (1.195 million US dollars) per individual. For a company like Diverse Link, it’s five times more.

The regulator has already submitted its claims to the Federal Court of Australia, which will now try to enforce them. He did not specify how many breaches he included, but if PPPFish had more than one club operating in Australia, the amount could be astronomical.

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