Apple Applies Hollywood-esque NC-17 Rating to Gambling Apps, Even Ones Where Real Money Isn’t at Stake

Posted on: August 21, 2019, 07:43h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2019, 12:27h.

Apple is mandating that developers of mobile applications downloaded via the company’s App Store rate even simulated gambling apps as appropriate only for users 17-years-old and up.

Gambling games in the App Store now require a warning to keep kids younger than 17 away. (Image: The Verge)

In an email to app developers on Tuesday, Apple said games deemed “frequent” or “intense simulated gambling” must carry the 17 and older label. For downloads in South Korea, the minimum age of use is 19-years-old.

In an effort to open up additional opportunities for developers, we’ve worked with the government of the Republic of Korea on making more apps available on the App Store in the Republic of Korea,” said Apple in a message to developers on Tuesday. “And to ensure that our global age rating system continues to help make the App Store safe for kids, apps that feature Frequent/Intense Simulated Gambling will be rated 17+ in all countries and regions starting August 20, 2019.”

The new ratings system applies to games in the App Store’s casino category, as well as those in the broader gaming/entertainment spectrum, where play can involve simulated gambling, adult-related content and nudity, references to the use of booze, drugs, and tobacco, and “realistic violence.”

Other Guidelines

Apple features a host of other protocols for developers of gambling-related fare to follow, including a rule stipulating sweepstakes and contests of chances must be sponsored by the producer.

“Gambling, gaming, and lotteries can be tricky to manage and tend to be one of the most-regulated offerings on the App Store,” according to Apple guidelines. “Only include this functionality if you’ve fully vetted your legal obligations everywhere you make your app available and are prepared for extra time during the review process.”

Apps available through the App Store cannot feature in-game purchases involving real currency in conjunction with games of chance where real money is at stake. The iPhone and iPad maker also requires developers to not allow “people to purchase lottery or raffle tickets or initiate fund transfers in the app.”

News of the 17+ rating scheme is Apple’s latest crackdown on app developers. Earlier this year, the company forced app makers and designers to code in iOS, making so-called “native apps,” rather than having the app rooted in HTML5 code.

Gaming Restrictions

Apple has other rules for apps that support real money wagering, including sports betting and poker.

Those apps and lotteries “must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be geo-restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store. Illegal gambling aids, including card counters, are not permitted on the App Store. Lottery apps must have consideration, chance, and a prize,” according to the company.

Earlier this year, Apple moved to restrict use of the business-focused Enterprise Certificate program that some creators were using to skirt the company’s bans on certain gambling and pornography apps.