Apple aimed to achieve tighter control over real-money gaming apps by requiring that they be written in native iOS code, instead of HTML5; native code can be better reviewed and scrutinized by Apple. The relevant particulars were outlined in paragraph 4.7 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines – the paragraph states:
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.
– Paragraph 4.7 in Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines
While this guideline was enforced for new apps, existing apps were required to comply with the changes by September 3, 2019 – a scant three months from the date of announcement.
As state lotteries have become dependent on mobile platforms to sell their gaming products, and as many of their lottery and betting apps were written in HTML5, the announced changes elicited a strong response from the world lottery community. In unison with the regional associations, the WLA submitted a letter to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, explaining the undue burden posed on the lottery and gaming sector by the declared changes to their App Store Review Guidelines.
In response to this letter and other complaints lodged by the private betting sector, Apple extended the September 3, 2019 deadline by six months, through to the beginning of March 2020.
In a surprise move, on March 26, 2020 Apple again extended the compliance deadline, this time for an additional three months – until June 30, 2020. Commenting on their developer blog, Apple said the new deadline extension was “to accommodate developers who may need additional time to update their existing apps on the App Store”.
This second deadline extension will definitely prove useful for those WLA members who have not yet had sufficient time to fully meet Apple’s requirements for mobile gaming apps. It will afford them the opportunity to complete the porting of HTML5 apps to code embedded in the app binary, and it will also permit developers to perfect their app designs and provide an optimal gaming experience.
The WLA welcomes this latest move from Apple and applauds their consideration and understanding. By providing the state-authorized lottery and sports betting sector with the time and space required to complete the necessary changes to their mobile platforms, Apple has demonstrated its commitment to the regulated gaming market and its noble mission of raising funds for good causes.