When’s a computer not a computer?

Net poker and other games could create headaches for Swedish Internet cafés after a court ruled that computers used for gaming are not computers at all – they are gaming machines, and therefore require special permits.

The ruling in the administrative court of appeal in Jönköping said that a computer in an Internet café automatically becomes a gaming machine if somebody uses it to play games with a financial stake. Swedish bars and cafés wanting to install gaming machines require special permits from the state.

The case decided by the court concerned an Internet café in Örebro with twelve computers. Örebro council had argued that argued that they were occasionally gaming machines, and occasionally computers, depending on which sites the users were visiting.

The head of Örebro council licensing department demanded that the café owner apply for licenses for all twelve computers. The owner refused, and was supported by both the country administrative board and the administrative court. These rulings were overturned on Wednesday’s appeal.

The consequences of the ruling are unclear. The Internet café in question closed in March.