pple has created new rules for its App Store, calling for all new apps to be native to the company’s software. The firm made some updates to their App Store Review Guidelines related to the use of HTML container apps, which resulted in some of the gaming and sports betting apps that distribute real money being rejected from the App Store due to having limited native features.
Many of these apps are cheaper to run and can be easier to develop. Before these new updates, Apple had provided limited feedback on how many native features a container app should have in order to be approved.
According to Guideline 4.7, HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce. This functionality is only appropriate for code that’s embedded in the binary and can be reviewed by Apple. “This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019,” Apple says in a summary statement. The deadline of September 3 is just a few days before the NFL begins their 2019 season.
It’s unclear whether apps will be removed after this, but it’s likely they won’t allow further updates and distribution unless they are changed to become fully native applications. While customers will still have the container versions on their phones, they won’t be able to receive updates and no new customers will be able to download the applications.
Guideline 5.3.4 says that apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) or lotteries must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be geo-restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store. Illegal gambling aids, including card counters, are not permitted on the App Store. Lottery apps must have consideration, chance, and a prize.
Although operators could reject Apple’s strict guidelines and offer mobile apps to other devices and computer, recent stats show that over 49% of smartphone users own an iPhone, WSN reports. Eliminating half of the market before offering online betting and iGaming is a proposition that will break most operators to following along with Apple’s requirements.
Apple’s new guidelines are expected to cause issues for states who have legalized sports betting. With several states legalizing sports betting and online gaming in recent months, the pressure has been applied to hurry the production of a mobile app to be ready for the beginning of the NFL season.
Although sports betting does not bring in huge revenue for operators, the NFL season does bring an significant amount of traffic to gambling establishments that spend money elsewhere in the casino. Gamblers will have to come into a casino to set up their online accounts first, giving them a taste of the physical location of the sportsbook, something operators encourage for bettors.
For instance, the SugarHouse Casino in Pennsylvania opened online betting in the state last Friday. But the casino is the first establishment affected by the new restrictions from Apple. Online betting via the SugarHouse is currently available on Android phones, desktop PC and MAC computers but not on iPhones.
The move by Apple has also affected SugarHouse’s ability to start their iGaming later in the summer, leaving residents without an app to play poker, blackjack and other house games. With the early-September deadline on the horizon, operators will have to kick their mobile app development into high gear to make sure they are ready for the beginning of football.