Apple Zaps 25,000 Gambling Apps from Chinese App Store

Posted on: August 20, 2018, 07:32h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2018, 07:32h.

Apple Inc. has purged around 25,000 gambling apps from the Chinese App Store, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Apple deletes gambling apps in Chinese App Store
Apple relies on China for around one fifth of its revenues and insists it complies with the local laws of countries where it does business, but it seems thousands of apps were allowed to slip through the net until they were removed this weekend. (Image: TechSpot)

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Monday, the tech giant confirmed it had removed “illegal gambling apps” but declined to say how many. Apple has been attacked by state-controlled media over the past month for breaking the country’s strict censorship laws and failing to do enough to protect Chinese citizens from gambling and pornography.

Apple offers over 1.8 million apps in China, from which it generates around one fifth of its revenue. The company has claimed it complies strictly with the laws of the jurisdictions in which it does business.

Gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland with the exception of the national lottery and state-run sports lotteries.

China’s ‘Great Firewall’

“We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” Apple said, in its statement.

Apple itself has set up the rules on how to allow apps onto its store, but it didn’t follow that, resulting in the proliferation of bogus lottery apps and gambling apps.”

Last year, Apple culled a host of apps offering virtual private networks (VPNs), which enabled Chinese internet users to skirt the so-called “Great Firewall,” Beijing’s vast program of domestic internet regulation and censorship. Developers of VPNs sold to the Chinese market now face imprisonment.

Not only does Beijing block sites that could be used as a platform for criticism of the government, but it also routinely monitors the internet access of individuals. It was reported in 2013 that the country’s “internet police” task force comprised some 2 million people.

Ulterior Motives?

It had been speculated that the wave of criticism of Apple by state media might have been prelude to Beijing taking retaliatory measures against the US company in the trade war with Washington. But it appears the criticism was meant to be taken at face value, and was about censorship not economics.

China has been waging a war against illegal online gambling for several years. During the recent FIFA World Cup, the Chinese instant messaging giant WeChat reported that raids on online gambling websites prior to the tournament forced many online bookmakers and proxy betting services onto social media, or to disguise their services as legal lottery apps.

On Monday, state media reported that authorities in eastern China had disrupted a $1.1 billion online gambling ring based out of the Philippines. Fifty suspects were were arrested in Shanghai, Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong, while a further six surrendered to authorities after returning to China from the Philippines.