The Australian Federal Court has ordered a company that was believed to have offered illegal online gambling services, to pay a fine of AU$5 million ($3.4 million). Announcement about the enforcement action came Monday and follows complaints raised by two customers of the online gambling operator. The decision of the Federal Court also comes after the country’s regulator in charge of communications and media, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has taken civil action against Rhys Edward Jones, Diverse Link Pty Ltd and Brenton Lee Buttigieg, the Australian Associated Press reveals.
Allegations against the company claimed that it breached the regulations related to online gambling within the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. The lawsuit claimed that Diverse Link breached the established regulatory framework by offering unlicensed online gambling services for a period of just above one year via Redraw Poker. The alleged breaches were conducted between March 15, 2021, and April 13, 2022, claimed the lawsuit.
Judging by the legal complaint, the unregulated gambling website offered selling chips worth AU$1 which could be purchased via bitcoin or bank transfers. Federal Court Justice David Thomas explained that the illicit activity was related to approximately AU$4.2 million ($2.8 million) in deposits. Still, he said that this figure did not include the deposits completed via bitcoins.
Fine to Serve as a Deterrent
Two gamblers that lost thousands of dollars at Redraw Poker complained about the activities of the online gambling operator to AMCA. Justice Thomas cited the complaint of one of the players, who claimed the website didn’t have any responsible gambling features. The victim also claimed that Redraw Poker enabled people to create multiple accounts under different names and didn’t honor requests for self-exclusion.
“The process was unregulated and there were no controls and no way in which problem compulsive gamblers were assisted,“
said Federal Court Justice David Thomas
Additionally, Justice Thomas noted that there were no protections or controls on the website that combat problem gambling. “A penalty at that level is, on the evidence before me, more than merely the cost of doing business and will give effect to the purpose of general deterrence,” he explained. Still, it remains unclear if the sum of the AU$5 million ($3.4 million) fine would be recovered.
Only recently, ACMA asked internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to 12 illegal gambling websites. The request is in line with its authorization and continues to expand the list of blocked illegal online gambling providers in an effort to ensure the safety of customers online.