The Implications of Apple’s New App Store Rule

Apple App Store

Apple has changed its conditions for accepting gambling apps in the App Store. A decision that will likely affect iOS users’ online gambling experience.

If you gamble online from an iPad or iPhone via an app, be prepared for your online gambling experience to get worse in a few months. Earlier this week, Apple announced it was changing its conditions for accepting apps that provide access to real money gambling; and that, after September 3rd, any app that is not iOS-native will be removed from the App Store.

Unfortunately, most online gambling apps are not iOS-native. This is because – compared with the complexity of the iOS programming language – it is relatively easy to develop hybrid apps using HTML-5 code. Not only do these hybrid apps work on multiple operating systems, it means there is only one set of code to patch or upgrade rather than two, three, or four.

Apple´s Uneasy History with Gambling Apps

This is not the first time Apple has moved the goalposts for gambling operators. In 2013, the technology giant stipulated it would only accept apps in the App Store from licensed operators who designed their apps to be inoperable in countries in which they were not licensed or in which online gambling was illegal. This resulted in operators having to integrate geolocation software into their apps.

The condition that operators had to be licensed led to the removal of all gambling apps from Sweden´s App Store in 2015 and from the App Stores in Norway and China in 2018. It also resulted in fewer iOS apps being available in regulated countries such as Spain, France, and Italy, and in regulated U.S. states, as unlicensed operators chose to develop mobile-optimized versions of their gambling platforms.

What´s the Difference in the Gambling Experience?

There are three “levels of user experience” when it comes to mobile gambling. At the top level, native apps tend to act quicker, have more features, and enhanced security. However the highest level of user experience comes with the payoff that users have to manually upgrade native apps rather than have upgrades automatically applied at operator level.

At the middle level (the one iOS and Android users experience at present), the action is not so fast, the feature set is limited (because hybrid apps are limited to shared functionalities across multiple operating systems), and security is meh. At the lower level, mobile-optimized gambling platforms can be unstable, can lack the image quality you get from native and hybrid apps, and are comparatively insecure.

What´s the Likely Consequence of the Rule Change?

The most likely consequence of Apple´s rule change is that gambling operators will develop mobile optimized versions of their gambling platforms rather than invest time and money developing iOS native apps. This is because not only does it cost more to develop iOS-native apps compared to hybrid apps, but patching and upgrading will also involve time-consuming and expensive processes.

Furthermore, considering Apple´s uneasy history with gambling apps, the technology giant could well announce further rule changes that would result in any investment in iOS-native apps being wasted. So, it´s not only a question of cost vs. user experience that gambling operators have to consider, but also whether any market advantage they get by developing iOS-native apps will be worth it in the long run.

In conclusion, if you gamble online from an iPad or iPhone via an app, enjoy it while you can. The likelihood is you will be unable to use the app from September and will have to use the operator´s mobile gambling site. If this is the case, be sure to take appropriate security precautions to protect your account from unauthorized access should you lose your mobile device.