Australia’s national online gaming regulator has issued a formal warning to a Hong Kong-based software company for “knowingly” working with Australia-facing online gaming operators, the first such move against industry suppliers.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on Monday (August 8) said it had issued the warning on August 5 to Proxous Advanced Solutions, the master licence holder for Realtime Gaming (RTG) brand software and which is “involved in the production and sub-licensing” of RTG games.
After an 18-month probe, the ACMA was “satisfied that Proxous … through its communications with the ACMA as well as its sub-licensing activities, had actual knowledge of the essential matters constituting the contraventions of [the Interactive Gambling Act 2001] by the prohibited services”, it said in the warning document.
Legislation separate to the act requires that online gambling offenders be “knowingly concerned in, or party to, a contravention”.
Inaction by Proxous can now attract civil penalties for supplying 13 blacklisted websites and their mirror sites, which offer casino-style games, some with Australian themes, which are illegal to provide to Australia-based customers under federal law.
However, the ACMA did not say in its statement or in its warning letter how it would proceed in applying civil penalties to an offshore company.
“This is the first time the ACMA has taken action against a company for its involvement in an illegal gambling operation through supplying software,” the statement said.
“Since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017, more than 170 of these services have pulled out of the Australian market.”
When asked by VIXIO GamblingCompliance if Proxous had cooperated with the probe, an ACMA spokesperson said that the company “has engaged with the ACMA during the course of the investigation”.
“Our expectation is that Proxous would cease the conduct which contravenes the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 as set out in the formal warning which was issued on 5 August,” he said.
“We will continue to monitor this matter and consider future enforcement action if required.”
He added that the ACMA would consider referring directors and principals of offending companies, including foreign companies, “to the Department of Home Affairs for inclusion on the Movement Alert List or notifying international regulators of our investigation outcome”.
Proxous Advanced Solutions was formerly known as Arrontech Software. Its website shows no address or contact numbers, but its Wanchai office address is included in the ACMA warning.