There are numerous stories that get written about betting and the use of technology, but few are as strange and unexpected as this one. Apple have confirmed in their latest review of App Store guidelines that any real money gambling apps that developers wish to be downloadable via the company’s App Store will need to be native iOS applications. Those that use HTML5 won’t be able to offer real money gaming to customers.
It is thought to be a move that could cause major disruption for gambling companies, given that many of them code their apps in HTML5 and the deadline for getting the new version of any apps arrived by Apple is the 3rd of September. Apps that users have already got on their phone will remain there, but they won’t be able to reinstall them if they delete them, nor will the companies responsible for them be able to release any updates until they comply with Apple’s new ruling.
Apple Will Soon Only Allow Native iOS Apps
The new rules mean that applications in the App Store cannot have any HTML5 code within them at all. Instead, apps will have to be made using Apple’s native iOS codes, with Swift being the company’s programming tool of choice.
The company behind the iPhone, iPad and Mac series of devices has long had a stringent process that is aimed at stopping people from entering illicit applications into its store, with this being the latest in a long line of moves from the California-based company that it hopes will reduce non-approved apps and games being installed.
Apple offered the Enterprise Program, which was intended to allow companies to produce their own apps for in-house use, but some nefarious application makers found a way of using it to put apps on the App Store for public consumption instead. The App Store is supposed to be a PG-rated place that is family friendly, but was used to get the likes of hardcore pornography and other illicit apps into the public domain to jailbroken iPhones and iPads.
The move to ensure that everything has to be coded using Apple’s own iOS code should ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen in the future.
What It Means Slot and Game Developers
The simple truth is that the majority of gambling-based applications within the App Store are HTML5 website in a native wrapper, meaning that the app itself is simply a portal to what is essentially an HTML5 site. That is because it is much cheaper to produce an app in that manner, rather than using Apple’s own iOS code, which is pricey and takes longer to develop.
The short answer to what this move means for developers, then, is that it will cost them a lot of money and take a lot of time to move from the current system to a system that will be considered to be compliant by Apple.
Any operator running an app that offers real money sports betting, casino games, poker, bingo, lottery or racing betting will need to completely overhaul how their app works in order to be compliant.
The big issue for developers isn’t even going to be the time and money that it will cost them to alter their applications but the fact that they’ll have to do it for every single game within an app. The majority of casino apps, for example, use countless HTML5 games in order to offer a wide-range of table games and slots to customers, but every single one of them will, in theory, need to be re-written in iOS code.
When Is This Due To Come In?
Apple have put a deadline of the 3rd of September in place before the new rules will come into effect, which isn’t much time at all for developers to make the necessary changes. Indeed, the co-founder and Managing Director of the software developer mkodo, Stuart Godfree, said that he thinks it will tae about eight weeks to port a HTML5 game over to being a native iOS offering, with the wider sportsbooks looking at ‘half a year at the very least’. It was an opinion backed up by Degree 53, the digital marketing agency, who referred to it as an ‘unrealistic’ undertaking.
The biggest concern for the majority of companies with apps that are aimed at a US market is that the new NFL season kicks off on September 5th, given them an incredibly short space of time to get their apps re-constituted and through the vetting process of both Apple and the various state legislators if they wish to offer their services to those that would place bets on American football matches.
It will be a particular cause for concern for companies that are predominantly aimed at US users, given that mobile play has been responsible for the drive in sports betting in the country since the laws have been relaxed.
What The New Rules Actually Say
Here’s the exact wording of Apple’s new rules regarding applications in the App Store:
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.
The key thing in that is that the ruling won’t just be applying to new apps but to apps that already exist within the App Store. Given that HTML5 has been widely considered to be the industry standard for apps in recent years thanks to how quick it works, Apple’s decision to throw that out the window with such a short timescale was largely unexpected within the online betting industry.
Companies that have a standalone sportsbook will probably find it easier to cope than those that have integrated casinos or are solely casino applications, so it won’t be a major surprise if betting companies separate them out from each other moving forward. Given that just over 40% of all smart phone users have iPhones, it’s going to be a major challenge for developers to create one app for Apple phones and another for Android.