In a surprising painful blow to Australian online poker, the highly popular PokerStars app was removed from the Australian Apple App Store. According to a statement made by the Australian Federal Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Department, it approached Apple with concerns that the PokerStars app was "contrary to the provisions of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001" asking for its removal. Aside to the PokerStars app, the 888 poker app was pulled as well.
The Interactive Gambling Act
The 12 year old law restricted online gambling operators in Australia from offering "real money" games to Australian residents; however it permitted the work of licensed sports bookmakers and lotteries, as long as these were not "instant-win" style.
The Interactive Gambling Act was largely disused in the last 12 years and it was intriguing to see how it was suddenly, almost out of the blue, raised against the PokerStars and 888 poker apps. This might have to do with recent criticism voiced by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale against Apple in April. The senator criticized Apple for providing access to the PokerStars app, saying that company has "an obligation to take down apps that are against Australian law".
PokerStars still in Google Play Store
It is rather entertaining that the PokerStars app is still available in the Australian Google Play Store. If Australian authorities will have the app pulled from there as well, this could signal that they are embarking on a full-on clampdown on online poker in the land down under.