Apple Removes Poker Apps from Swedish App StorePublished March 9, 2015 by Mike P
Apple has responded to complaints from the Swedish Gaming Board by preventing Swedish residents from accessing foreign poker apps.
Membership of the European Union (EU) is supposed to be on the condition that countries adhere to the freedom of goods, capital, services, and people. Unfortunately, though, not all EU member states adhere to those four freedoms. And within those freedoms, online gambling is categorised as a service. Therefore, it is surprising that Sweden has long maintained a monopoly on its online gambling industry.
Leading Poker Apps Affected
Most recently, the Swedish Gaming Board demanded that Apple remove all real-money poker applications from the App Store that could be accessed by Swedish residents. The principal poker apps affected by the request included 888poker, PokerStars, and PartyPoker. In response, Apple chose to prevent access to the poker apps for Swedish residents.
This move provides further evidence that Sweden is actively trying to protect its monopoly gambling operator, which is named Svenska Spel. Back in 2013, the European Commission (EC) asked for Sweden to open up its market and bring it into line with EU policies. Sweden did not even take the opportunity to explain why it was restricting access to foreign gambling operators.
After refusing to implement the recommended changes, the EC took the decision to refer Sweden to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Time will tell as to what impact the referral will have. Public administration minister Ardalan Shekarabi clearly stated in February that Sweden had no plans “to relax its gambling regulations and to throw open its market to foreign companies.”
Sweden Gambling Monopoly Grows Stronger
Before receiving support from Apple, Sweden had been unable to maintain its perfect monopoly. Rather than bow to the wills of Swedish policymakers, PokerStars had been one of the operators willing to accept Swedish players. However, that has since changed, allowing for the Swedish government to strengthen its monopoly to a greater degree than ever before.