On Tuesday, several technology blogs began reporting that developers had received notices from Apple that all apps that feature “Frequent/Intense Simulated Gambling” will be rated 17+ “in all countries and regions,” effective immediately.
The notice was included in an email regarding discussions Apple had with the South Korean government regarding expanding the number of apps in that country’s App Store. However, apps featuring simulated gambling, sexual content or nudity, ‘alcohol, tobacco or drug use or reference’ and/or ‘realistic’ violence will be restricted to South Koreans aged 19+.
Apple’s notice is but the latest restriction it has imposed on the gambling sector, following this month’s announcement of a new Apple credit card for which gambling services were strictly off-limits. There was also June’s surprise demand that real-money gambling apps can’t include HTML5 casino games if they wish to appear in the App Store after September 3.
While some companies apparently managed to find stopgap workarounds to Apple’s new iOS-native demands, eGaming Review reported Tuesday that UK online gambling operator Bet365 recently stripped all casino games from its iOS sports betting app to be sure it was in compliance when that September 3 deadline rolls around.
Apple’s message to developers said the intention behind its new social gaming policy is to “help make the App Store safe for kids,” and the usual media suspects have indeed been raising holy hell lately about the increasingly blurred lines between gaming and gambling, be it the ongoing controversy surrounding loot boxes or the new real-money casino in EA’s Grand Theft Auto.
Last week also saw PBS’ News Hour program run a disturbing segment on some of the more predatory tendencies of social casino operators and the effects on players, including a woman who lost over $400k on Big Fish Casino (now part of Australian gaming operator Aristocrat Leisure).
Apple has proven more than willing to accede to requests by various governments to purge certain content from their country’s respective App Stores. In July, the company’s latest transparency report showed China, Russia and Vietnam leading the way in requesting that gambling-related iOS apps be kept out of reach of their citizens.