On 5 May 2017, Luke Brabin, 37, was convicted in Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast of running an online poker service through the website play.pokerasiapacific.com. He was fined $10,000 for this offence. It is the first conviction under this provision of the Interactive Gambling Act.
Between April and August 2016, Mr Brabin ran a business and websites collectively referred to as Poker Asia Pacific. The website allowed people based in Australia to register accounts and play online poker for Australian dollars. Approximately 5,500 of the 6,000 registered players on PlayPoker were based in Australia.
PlayPoker took a two per cent commission on the amount gambled in each hand of poker, with the website generating about $10,000 in revenue per month. Brabin knew running his online poker business was illegal and said he had started it to lobby for changes to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth).
On 5 May 2017, Luke Brabin was convicted and fined $10,000, in relation to:
- 1 count of intentionally providing an interactive gambling service to customers in Australia, contrary to section 15(1) of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth).
Magistrate Callaghan took into account Brabin’s early guilty plea, but noted it was in the face of an overwhelming prosecution case. His Honour also noted that 85 per cent of Brabin’s online customer base was Australian and that it had generated $260,000 in income up until 2016.
Magistrate Callaghan rejected the defence submission that this was a 'victimless crime', noting that some of the defendant's customers must have lost money from using his website. He also took into account that the defendant knew what he was doing was illegal at the start and that he obviously wanted to make money from the business.
In rejecting a defence submission that a conviction should not be recorded, Magistrate Callaghan stated that the offending was not trivial nor committed under extenuating circumstances. His Honour considered that general deterrence was necessary in this case and that this factor outweighed the defendant's very good antecedents. As Brabin sought to travel internationally to play professional golf, Magistrate Callaghan inferred there was capacity to pay the $10,000 fine.