Apple iOS

The US based tech giant Apple Inc. has launched an update in its constantly evolving App Store policies that could throw a curve ball into online operators and the plans to exponentially expand into all various forms of online gambling. The news, which has rapidly spread in the last week, reports that Apple has declared to that online gambling apps used on Apple iPhones may not make use of HTM5 code. This not only includes online gambling apps but a number of other software categories. Apple has stated that such apps may only use native iOS code, this is to be further pre-approved by apple before any such app will be allowed to launch on its in-built App Store.

Why this decision may be problematic for online casinos

This decision by apple is guaranteed to cause problems for online gambling operators. This is because most online operators generally write code once and this code is in web-standard HTML. Seeing as HTML5 is the newest version in interactive coding language it is the code most prominently used. With this new stipulation from Apple, casino operators won’t easily be able to “wrap” their standard HTML code into an iOS shell for upload on to the App Store. The best way to understand the potential effect that’s this decision may have on casino operators is by understanding the gambling software set-up. AS great example of this is legendary gambling gaming developer Microgaming as its famous and lucrative Poker Network. Many online casinos use Microgaming’s “skins” in order to upload Microgaming software onto their platforms. The “skin” which is essentially a form of software incorporates branding as well as front-end association. This is then grafted over the foundations of MPN software that is responsible for running the games on the device. This way of packaging gambling software is something that most online gambling operators apply and how they make their services available to iPhone users. To put it in simpler terms, most if not all online casino operators are using their existing HTML codes filtered across an iOS converter, analysed for any issues and then launched on to the platform.

This way of launching their platforms has worked great of for online operators, however, Apple has declared that this approach is no longer suitable. On June 3rd Apple released a new policy requirement stipulating:

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.

Before the upgraded requirements the process on getting games on the Apple Store was standard and applied across the board, these new requirements will make it difficult for online operators currently in the development stages of their apps as this will mean re-writing their standard code to comply with Apple’s new policy. For existing apps currently in the App Store this announcement means operators will need to re-write and possibly even develop new code by September 3rdin order to keep their apps in the store.

The stakes are much higher than you thought

The newly introduced requirement adds on to Apple’s earlier guidelines which also hindered a number of operator’s app creation plans, this has already resulted in a number of mobile-gambling platforms not being able to make their apps available on Apple. With this new policy the number of gambling developers being unable to offer their products for iOS users is likely to worsen. Based on information from various sources, it is said that the pending implementation of this iOS code policy is the reason why Pennsylvania based casino SugarHouse has been unable to launch their mobile-offering on Apple. It has also been said that there are a number of US based casinos who have been unable to launch their platforms on Apple and even more international based casinos.

The three months span that Apple gas given online operators to develop, test and get approval for native iOS code is certainly not enough time. Not only will this halt mobile apps currently in production it will require a lot of money and investment to recalibrate the development strategy to adhere to these standards. With a rush to launch their platforms due to user demand online casino platforms may find themselves struggling to produce efficient, high-quality, bug-free and complaint applications. There is also an idea of the redundancy of this process seeing as in US states this process has already been regulated and software has already been vetted by state gaming regulators.

Mobile betting sites might get the hardest blow

Although this new requirement is going to affect most of the online gambling industry, it is specifically going to hit the sports betting the hardest compared to poker and other gambling platform sires. This is because of the popularity parity between sports and iPhone users. Sports is universally popular and so are iPhone devices. One sports betting mobile operator has stipulated that the prevailing demographic users of their betting site are also iPhone users.

Although Apple clearly holds the power dynamic in this conversation its also important to know that power can always be taken away. The online casino industry is HUGE and this means they can rally their members and issue a middle finger to apple by offering various other ways of accessing their games. This of course may prove to be rather difficult but its not impossible.

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Shihaam Isaacs


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