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Apple Removes Banned Poker Apps from Its Australian Online Store

Wed, Jul 24, 9:05am by Kevin Pitstock

AppleThis is an update on a previous news story. Apple Inc. yesterday removed poker applications used by Australians to play at two prominent mobile casinos. This brings Apple in compliance with the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy moved to shut down access for Australians under the IGA, despite that 2001 law never being used to prosecute an Aussie for gambling violations. The law stipulates online gambling is illegal for poker and casino games, but no prosecutions have followed in its 12 year history.

Despite that fact, the Department of Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy sent warning letters to gaming companies back in the spring, warning them about the poker apps. These letters were ignored, no doubt because Australia’s government had yet followed through against gaming operators.

Reasons for Banning Mobile Poker App

The new desire to enforce appears to involve concern that mobile gaming apps for real money poker gambling are seen as targeting teenagers. On the gaming app, players can play for “real money”, instead of engaging in a virtual economy. Anti-gambling forces claim that the imaginary money forms a gambling habit in youths which transfers to their adult gaming, and games which allow real gambling are past the line.

With a desire to limit youth exposure to the gambling culture, Australian officials want to clamp down on this type of gaming quickly. It’s also thought the Australian law enforcement officials may be anticipating new reforms which might make electronic gaming more difficult in the future.

Apple Complies with Laws

It should be noted that Apple fully complied with the Australian government to the best of its ability. When the DBCDE wrote Apple raising its concerns about the offending applications, the computer company claimed the developer of the app did not take action.

A government official noted in a press release, “Apple sought to resolve this issue with the App developer. After the developer failed to take action, Apple wrote to the Department to advise that it would remove the Pokerstars App from its Australian App Store.”

No Apps for Australians

After Apple’s actions, Australians interested in gambling for real money using their mobile phones cannot download the app in question. It’s been noted that American players still have access to the banned downloadable application. One can assume most European players also have the ability to download the same product.

Apple Tax Avoidance Issues

Apple is likely to be in a mood to comply with these current requests from the Australian government. This is not the first time in the last few months Apple has been in the cross-hairs of Aussie officials.  In May, the Australian government called out Apple Inc. and Google as two foreign companies which make a tremendous profit in Australia, but use underhanded money funneling tactics to avoid paying commensurate taxes to the Aussie government.

Google and Apple were not the only ones guilty of such practices, but were cited as example offenders. The method used is referred to as a “Double Irish Dutch Sandwich”. With this much bigger issue on the table, it’s likely Apple will bend over backwards to please Australian officials, in hopes of a less trouble over the tax avoidance issue.

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