Apple Takes A Bite Out Of Gaming Apps With New iOS Guidelines

Written By Chris Imperiale on June 12, 2019 - Last Updated on March 20, 2023
Apple and its new iOS policy may impact WV online betting.

There are plenty of issues in the rolling out of West Virginia online sports betting and online casinos. As if that weren’t enough, the newest headache comes from Apple.

The company just released a new App Store policy that will apply to every online casino and sportsbook in the US.

The new guidelines say that every app that involves real-money gaming must be created specifically for the iOS platform.

Apple’s update stated:

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.

Basically, most online casinos and mobile sportsbooks use some sort of coding like HTML5 to create and operate their apps. The problem is that this is more or less a different version of their website, and Apple does not want that to be the case.

Apple’s ruling requires that every real-money app be designed specifically for iOS. This gives the company the final say on whether a casino’s app has qualified to be placed in the App Store.

The biggest issue is the timeframe Apple has given to complete this seemingly difficult task. According to them, if your favorite online gambling app isn’t updated to meet the standards by Sept. 3, then it will no longer be available to download to your phone.

How will WV online sportsbooks be affected?

The struggle for WV sportsbook apps and real money online casinos will be trying to meet all of the WV gaming requirements and those of Apple in such a short time frame.

The new policy doesn’t just apply only to new online gambling apps anticipating a launch, but every mobile option that’s already available for download.

The one positive note is the requirement might be less cumbersome for most sportsbooks. Not that it won’t be an issue. It will just be a bigger issue for online casinos.

These casinos are being forced to change from what is widely used as the gaming-industry standard, HTML5, to an entirely new code without little notice.

The West Virginia Lottery already approved three online sportsbooks:

DraftKings, however, is the only sportsbook to pass the testing phase.

DraftKings app in New Jersey has an integrated casino. And while online casinos won’t launch in WV anytime soon, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a consideration.

Of course, DraftKings developed its app in-house and has already been approved by Apple.

If changes are required to become compliant for the apple store, DraftKings will most likely have to go through the WV Lottery testing process again.

DraftKings has already been delayed because of one of its server locations. This could impact its launch even further.

The clock is ticking

It would be one thing to give an ample amount of time, but changes look like they will take much more time than the three months allotted.

That will prove to be a huge issue come Sept. 3, when Apple may dispose of a number of online betting apps. The biggest problem with this date is that the first NFL game of the new season starts just two days later on Sept. 5.

With the NFL being the most-wagered-on sport, online sportsbooks that are not yet approved by Apple will be missing out on a large number of new betting customers.

This will be especially true in WV. There are no online sports betting apps currently on the market, so pretty much every resident of the state is a potential new player.

The Lottery predicted online sports betting in West Virginia would return by football season. But expectations have been falsely set before. For now, though, too much is up in the air to really know how, or if, the new guidelines will impact the rollout of online betting in WV.

PA sports betting already affected

Just as the exciting news of the first online sportsbook in Pennsylvania was announced, SugarHouse Sportsbook was denied access into the Apple App Store. As mentioned, the mobile app may have a harder time meeting these new guidelines because of SugarHouse’s online casino business.

This will end up posing a problem for the SugarHouse NJ Sportsbook as well.

Because the sportsbook and the casino app are integrated as one, it’s going to be harder for companies like SugarHouse to get its sportsbook app approved. The majority of the HTML5 coding that needs to be reworked is based around the variety of casino games the app offers.

This is why the brands that are standalone sportsbooks will have an easier time adjusting to the new rules. Don’t be surprised if many casinos end up separating their online sportsbook and casino in order to have sports betting available come Sept.

What’s next for WV online sports betting?

Online betting in WV was once so optimistic. However, with DraftKings having to delay its sportsbook release because of the Wire Act and now this new Apple decision, things are looking less so.

By implementing this guideline, Apple is forcing the gaming industry to adjust. There are too many iOS-device users in the US to not address this issue immediately.

In fact, more than 44% of smartphone customers in the country used an iPhone in 2018.

All of this makes you question why is Apple really doing this?

Online sportsbooks and casinos already have to go through a series of tests to become regulated. S0, why does Apple need to do so as well?

Two app developers have decided it’s partly because Apple is creating a monopoly through its App Store. The developers filed a lawsuit against Apple stating the tech company is not properly operating the distribution of apps.

This actually does start to make some sense when you know that Apple is working on releasing an Apple Arcade of their own. By limiting the number of online casinos available for download in the App Store, the company’s own online arcade could very easily become a hot commodity.

As always, there will be plenty more to come from situations like these. Hopefully, WV online casino and sportsbook operators are prepared to hurdle another crazy obstacle.

Chris Imperiale Avatar
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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale is currently the Managing Editor of Catena Media's US online lottery site, PlayiLottery. He used to be the Managing Editor of PlayWV, covering the sports betting and online casino industries in the Mountain State. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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