Users in China began complaining that they were being spammed with gambling-related messages. Since gambling is highly illegal in the country, state monitored media was unhappy and subsequently accused the technological powerhouse of not blocking illegal content. In a bid to retain a good relationship with China (who are one of their biggest consumers), Apple realised that they needed to take these concerns seriously and ban such activities from their App Store. It is estimated that they have removed over 4000 apps in China alone and specifically targeted those with words such as ‘lottery’ in their title. Apple is thus targeting apps that exist in locations where real-money gambling or simulated gambling experiences are illegal.
However, this attempt to shutdown gambling apps has been largely focused on individual developers, rather than larger businesses. Apple divulged that only verified accounts from businesses are to submit gambling apps for consumption in the App store.”
While this is understandable from a safety point of view, unfortunately, a number of smaller apps have been hit, even when their developers state that they are not real money gambling apps or simulating a gambling experience. In fact, even magazine apps and clock apps have been caught in this crossfire and have been deleted without any investigation into how they work. Developers have simply woken up to a deleted app and no correspondence as to why this has happened.
Many smaller developers and entrepreneurs also feel that the ban on their products is ‘unfair’ since a large proportion of their revenue is dependent upon the App store.
Thus, when it comes to adult wagering and online gambling, it’s often a better bet to focus on website-based applications that offer a secure platform for adults to enjoy online gambling. Apple has the autonomy to be selective when it comes to their apps, and according to the founder of the sports betting app Bait, applications must comply with the local laws of their region. Thus, in countries where online gambling is illegal, applications will be deleted. Apple also prohibits transactions through their accounts. However, in regions where betting apps are popular and legal, there will be less of a need to delete them.
For developers, it’s best to consult the App Store Review Guidelines before submitting an app for consideration.
This will enable developers to acquaint themselves with the guidelines prior to submission and will prevent unnecessary deletion if apps do not adhere to their standards. However, this might not stop situations where apps are mistakenly deleted and mistaken for gambling apps.
Ultimately, this crackdown targets apps that are operating outside of their regional jurisdiction. As a technological giant, Apple has to keep their respective consumer markets happy and adhere strictly to their laws to avoid legal fall-out and a possible ban.