On June 3, Apple updated its App Store review guidelines, which included a revision of the 4.7 rule which further imposes restrictions on gambling apps.
The updated guideline now stipulates that from September 3, “HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming or lotteries”.
This new requirement follows an update earlier this year which required apps to have a “minimal level of nativity”, meaning that sportsbooks, casinos, bingo and lotteries can no longer simply repackage their websites as apps.
“The hardening of the 4.7 rule has more immediate impact”
CasinoBeats spoke to Stuart Godfree, managing director and co-founder of apps and digital agency mkodo, to understand what this latest update will mean for operators.
CasinoBeats: What does the 4.7 guideline actually mean?
Stuart Godfree: The key item in the update is that “real money” games have to be included in the binary.
Apple are not mandating that these real money games are iOS binaries (i.e. written in Objective-C or Swift) but have to be part of the original distribution. So, this means that from September 3, your HTML5 real money games have to be built into the app.
This is entirely possible, but it does mean you will be limited to how many games you can include in the binary. Optionally developers may choose to port their games to a native binary and review how they optimise code re-use.
CB: What implications will it have for operators in the gambling industry?
SG: We are still reviewing the implications of what this means. Operators have rightly been worried about the 4.2 issue, where the app must be more than an HTML website wrapped in a native container.
The hardening of the 4.7 rule has more immediate impact, especially for those apps that had a high level of native functionality but included third party (casino) games. It’s difficult to see how operators will react. In my opinion they have two choices.
“Put simply, existing apps will be kicked off the App Store or new ones will be rejected when submitted”
To abandon the iOS apps entirely and move only to web delivered solutions; or move their sportsbook, casino, table games, bingo, lottery instants etc over to be either embedded or native.
However, he first option is going to be difficult as the App Store is one of the world’s largest advertising and distribution networks. Not being part of this is going to force great advertising spend to recoup for the lost natural discovery that the App Store provides.
Plus, customers are demanding and expecting their favourite betting, gaming, bingo app to be native and installed on their phone, not delivered over a web page.
Alternatively, operators may choose to use the app as a “launch vehicle” and launch applications outside of the app, though this is not explicitly against Apple’s Guidelines, interpretation is the key on how this could or should be implemented.
Of course, there is a third option and that is to lobby Apple to alter their view on this revision to 4.7. This has proven difficult in the past, however.
CB: What happens if operators do not comply with these guidelines?
SG: Put simply, existing apps will be kicked off the App Store or new ones will be rejected when submitted. It is important to remember that although this will cause the industry some headache, Apple is introducing these new guidelines to protect the consumers.
Apple is becoming stricter in ensuring the guidelines are adhered to so if operators choose to stay in the App Store, they should comply with the rules or risk getting a bad reputation with Apple.