Numerous Apps Caught up in Apple's New App Store Review Policy to Ban Gambling-Related Apps
In an attempt to crack down on gambling-related apps in the App Store, Apple has today implemented a new App Review policy for individual developers, but many apps that are being banned as a result appear to have very little to do with gambling at all.
Our newsstand/news/magazine app just got removed from sale from the App Store 24 hours after our 3.0 update was approved. Reason given: gambling/fraudulent activity. We publish a magazine — nothing to do with gambling or fraud at all. 😞😢😲😱 https://t.co/ewu3mE5FG5 pic.twitter.com/vaKtLthvkW — Wojtek Pietrusiewicz (@morid1n) August 9, 2018
Apple has been providing affected developers with the following reason for their app's removal from the App Store:
In order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, we are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers. The includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience.
As a result, this app has been removed from the App Store. While you can no longer distribute gambling apps from this account, you may continue to submit and distribute other types of apps to the App Store.
Apple finishes by saying that "only verified accounts from incorporated business entities may submit gambling apps for distribution on the App Store", and advises developers to visit the Enrollment page to learn more about enrolling an organization in the Apple Developer Program.
Apple just removed WatchPlay from the App Store for being a gambling app. ...? https://t.co/hL14H3oTFn — Ziph0n (@Ziph0n) August 8, 2018
When developers submit their app to the App Store, a section called "Rating" asks them to rate their app's content based on a chart and identify how frequently the content appears.
The content marker "Unrestricted web access" in this section applies when a user can access any URL by opening a browser window from within the submitted app.
Ticking it automatically slaps the app with a 17+ age rating if it makes it to the App Store, because it gives users of the app the potential ability to circumvent parental controls.
However, on the face of it, Apple's gambling-related ban today looks to have overreached significantly in this regard. We've asked Apple for comment and will update this post if we hear more.
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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.