Luke Smorgon

CEO

24th July 2013

Pokerstars removed from Australian App Store – what a joke

News | Thoughts By 3 years ago

I love playing poker. Texas Holdem requires a great deal of skills that are transferable to life and to business, and the parallels are uncanny.

You need to work hard, focus and make calculated decisions in order to succeed. You also need a healthy dose of good luck. Conversely, an opponent (or say, competitor) could be viewed with contempt, perceived as weak, and considered a very mild threat to your business (or chips.) Then in an instant of good fortune, they are the one with all the chips, and you are the one left cursing your bad luck. Such is life. Such is poker.

So when I need a break from business, you can guess what I turn to… poker. I”m not in it for the money, but in it to succeed by crushing opponents, backing my judgement and chasing victory. I get an equal thrill out of playing free poker games as I do small cash games. And no game did I enjoy playing more than Pokerstars on the iPad and iPhone.

It was quite pleasing (albeit surprising) when over a year ago, Apple approved the release of the Pokerstars app for iOS. Apple usually run an extremely tight ship when it comes to allowing different types of apps on the App Store, and deviating from even slightly PG content usually results in a rejection. Google, although perceived as more lenient when allowing apps into Google Play, are in fact stricter on restrictions, and would never allow the Pokerstars app to appear at all.

I have been enjoying playing the Pokerstars app for quite sometime, and they actually did a really good job with it. You could access all your accounts, play on the same tables that you could play on the desktop, and the entire experience was fairly well optimised for mobile. It was great to take 10 minutes here and there either on the couch using the iPad, or going for a little walk during the day and playing on my iPhone.

So it was a real surprise when with little warning, the federal government put pressure on Apple and (and also another app from 888 Poker.) This seems quite unusual as online poker and indeed many other forms of gambling/gaming like sports betting and pokies are so prevalent in our society. Why should the government focus on one set of apps on one platform to ban them? Why allow people to bet on the horses from their mobile, but not play cards? This seems quite arbitrary and ill-thought if you ask me. Also I”m not pleased with Pokerstars response to this matter.They removed the app from being available on the Australian App Store, and to those customers who already had the app, we were simply presented with this mystic message about updating the app. When you hit Update, it simply took you to a dead link that informed the app was not available in this country. So no communication, no explanation about what was happening, just an endless death loop of misery.

This should be scary for other app developers around, that an issue entirely out of your control can cause pressure on the platform you sell your application on, forcing its removal from all your customers and there”s nothing you can do about it.

Either there needs to be some consistency in government attempts to regulate gambling, or they could simply acknowledge that a modern society of adults are able to be discerning enough to make our own decisions on what type of content we want to consume, and how we want to consume it.

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