In some parts of the world, Apple allows casino apps to be offered in their App Store so users of their devices can download and play them. This is allowed in markets where gambling is legal.
Developers who offer legal casino and sportsbook apps must abide by the local market regulations before they can offer their casino apps on the App Store. This is great for people who want to play these games, but should they really be allowed on there?
For a while, Google didn't allow real money gambling apps in their Google Play Store. But, Apple has allowed them on the App Store for a while as long as gambling was legal in that market.
Let's take a look at how gambling apps work on the App Store and how they are allowed.
No ‘Wrappers' Allowed
Back in 2019, Apple made a big change in regard to real money gambling apps. They required them to be built natively instead of being offered as what's known as HTML container apps.
These apps were at one point known as “wrappers,” and it was a quicker and cheaper way for gambling companies to create and deploy their apps into the App Store. Apple basically said they couldn't repurpose their HTML5 websites into apps.
The move forced a lot of companies to make big changes to how they designed and deployed real money gambling apps.
There are some “bad actors” in the online gambling industry that at least partially contributed to Apple's decision. Some of these came from Norway and China around the time that Apple made the change.
The company took steps to proactively prevent apps that weren't approved or compliant from being offered on the App Store.
NC-17 Rating for All Gambling Apps
Later in 2019, Apple took another step to protect itself: It mandated that all apps that were for gambling, whether real money or play money, have a rating that shows it's appropriate only for users who are at least 17 years of age.
In some countries, such as South Korea, that age limit is higher at 19 years old. Apps that fall into the casino category in the App Store as well as in the gaming/entertainment category have to abide by these age-related limits.
In addition to the age ratings, Apple also has limits on what companies can offer their gambling apps, and who they can offer them to.
Any lottery or gambling app “must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used,” according to Apple's terms of services. They also “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.”
A Class Action Lawsuit
Early in 2021, Apple's App Store was slapped with a class action lawsuit. The organizers of the suit were targeting Apple for profiting from and hosting apps in its App Store that offered gambling.
Specifically, the lawsuit was concerned about titles that were developed by the company Zynga. The apps were free for users to play but also offered purchases in the app, with micro-transactions, that exchanged digital currency and other types of digital goods.
The lawsuit was claiming that Apple was culpable to the various statutes Zynga Casino Apps violated, since the company allowed them to offer their apps on the App Store.
The games provided free chips to start to new users, but then additional chips needed to be purchased once they ran out of them. The users also couldn't get cash from the games, but rather only could win additional playing time.