How Soon Before The Apple Gambling App Ban Touches Sports Betting?

Written By Juan Carlos Blanco on August 27, 2018
Apple Gambling Ban

For decades, sports bettors outside of Nevada knew there were two “death and taxes” aspects of their favorite hobby that came with the territory — illegality, and the necessary shortcuts to get around it.

Yet a favorable SCOTUS decision in Murphy vs. NCAA enabled sports betting, and by extension, its participants, to come out of the shadows. Sure, only on a state-by-state basis, but hey, it’s progress.

Yet might we be on the precipice of the “one step back” part of the equation after taking the proverbial two steps forward this past May?

Apple begins sudden eradication of gambling apps

When it comes to sports betting apps created by individual developers, the potential for a speed bump is there. A recent crackdown by Apple on gambling-related apps – or anything its internal monitoring system may mistakenly identify as such, apparently – could conceivably have a tangential effect in the digital sports betting realm.

The sweep apparently began with a focus on other countries. China – with its “internet police” task force and ban on any non-state-or-national-sponsored gaming – was a major focal point of the initiative to wipe out both real-money-based gaming apps and those only offering a simulated experience.

Apple did the same at the behest of the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) in early August, reportedly eliminating 38 gambling-related apps from its App Store offerings in the country.

But it’s happening stateside, as well. No less prominent an industry name than professional poker play Max Silver can testify first-hand.

His SnapShove app, which was a learning and training tool for poker players and involved neither real-money nor simulated play, was suddenly booted from the App Store earlier this month. The only explanation Silver received from Apple involved a statement emphasizing their new focus on curbing “fraudulent activity” and complying “with government requests to curb illegal online gambling activity”.

Based on further wording in the message, the ban appears to strictly apply to individually developed apps. Those associated with incorporated business entities appear to be exempt for the time being.

And notably, sports betting-related apps do not yet seem to be affected in the United States – a wide array of both real-money-based and simulated sportsbook apps remain readily available on Apple’s App Store at present.

Little reason to think sports betting apps dodge a bullet

However, if recent trends are any indication, individual developers looking to take advantage of the new sports betting frontier likely have every reason to believe they’ll be stonewalled, too. That is, unless they approach Apple as a corporation and successfully traverse whatever verification process may be required.

Notably, Android has not yet followed suit, presumably keeping it a viable option for non-incorporated entities for the moment.

This new, aggressive policy is a noteworthy one from a business perspective. After all, the legalization of sports betting outside of Nevada — even in its presently nascent state — has already planted the seeds for a robust side industry.

That naturally could come to include a large number of sports betting tutorial or tout apps, for example. Similar companies in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) space have thrived with such a business model. It wouldn’t be a stretch whatsoever to envision that success replicated in another real money-based gaming industry.

As far as the extra steps app developers may have to go through? They may not be insurmountable, but they’re somewhat discouraging — many sports betting enthusiasts likely thought the SCOTUS decision meant their “hoop jumping” days were done for good.

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Juan Carlos Blanco

Juan Carlos Blanco has served as a freelance writer for a wide variety of online publications and websites, with an intensive focus on fantasy sports. Juan has provided analysis and comprehensive coverage of the MLB, NBA, NFL, CFL, AAF and AFL while also reporting on news and developments in the daily fantasy sports and online gaming industries.

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