Apple may be casting too wide a net in gambling app ban

A new report by MacRumors suggests that Apple’s recent enforcement actions against gambling apps on the App Store may be catching unrelated apps as a result of an overly broad consideration of “unrestricted web access” as providing the potential for accessing gambling-related sites, since it would allow a user to access any URL from an in-app browser window. While the “Unrestricted web access” designation has long required apps to carry a “17+” age rating, since the browser window can circumvent parental controls, it seems that Apple considers it an open window into activities that would otherwise be banned on the App Store. Apps that have been caught up in the ban include a magazine app and even an Apple Watch app, WatchPlay, that’s designed to simply allow users to start YouTube videos from their wrist.

The new crackdown is based on a new App Store policy that now only permits “verified accounts from incorporated business entities” to publish gambling apps, with Apple sending other developers notices telling them that the move is “to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity.” The policy includes not only gambling apps that use real money but also any apps that “simulate a gambling experience.”

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