Published: July 21, 2019

APPLE’S restrictive gaming APP guidelines are little more than an IOS tax

It’s really hard to figure the reason why the Apple App Store released new guidelines last month saying all real-money gaming apps must be redesigned specifically for its iOS platform by Sept. 3 or face removal from the store.

Unless it’s got something to do with the security of customers personal information, making sports betting and online casino apps jump through this hoop seems rather unnecessary.

Currently, the majority of the online casino and sports betting apps in a state like New Jersey offer HTML 5 coded versions of their apps on the store.

iPhone users can download any number of them. They’re not natively designed for the iOS platform, but they work just the same.

Now, for some unexplained reason, Apple wants to put what amounts to an iOS tax on these fledgling businesses by forcing them to rebuild the apps for the 40 percent of the market that uses Apple mobile products. Or, face kissing almost half of the lucrative market goodbye.

Word came out this week that the recently launched SugarHouse Sportsbook app might have a solution in Pennsylvania. It’s one that doesn’t involve sportsbook and mobile casino apps hiring a team of iOS developers and start from the ground up.

Instead, SugarHouse’s partnership with GeoComply allows them to do two things. First, they can comply with Pennsylvania law by making sure all the bets they take are placed in PA. Second, they can offer customers GeoComply’s GeoGuard app. It acts as a workaround, allowing iOS users to access browser-based versions of their favorite online casinos or online sportsbooks.

Is this just a short-term fix that Apple will eventually put a stop to? Yes, if Apple is really serious about compliance with this new guideline. And if the company is intent on getting online gambling operators to put some cash in the pockets of their partners that design specifically for the iOS platform.


The shame in all this is that it amounts to a business-killing endeavor.

The legal online gambling industry is really in its infancy in the US. While most NJ online casinos have been around for four or five years, the sportsbook apps in NJ and various other states are less than a year old.

Plus, the sports betting business itself survives on very slim margins to begin with.

We’ve already seen how important the mobile side of this business is. In NJ, 80% of the bets are placed on a mobile app. In PA, it was 40% in the first month with only one app live for most of it and two others joining later.

The list of those looking for a piece of the sports betting pie is already long and growing. It’s becoming quite clear there isn’t going to be enough for everyone. It makes it sad to see a business like Apple going after a piece instead of supporting an emerging partner and fostering the kind of industry its customers clearly want access to.


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