South Australia Asks Apple to Ban Play-Money Gambling Apps for Kids

Posted on: November 20, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: November 18, 2013, 10:02h.

Mobile giant Apple is being approached by South Australian premier Jay Weatherill to ban play-money gambling apps for kids

Mobile technology giant Apple has always been willing to work with Australia and other governments to ban the release of real-money online gambling apps. Now, one state is asking them to go a step further by preventing children from accessing even the play-money versions of gambling apps.

Apple on Board

That’s the word from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, who says that his government has already contacted Apple about cooperating with the policy, which would make it an offense to supply gambling apps to minors. While online gambling apps have been a part of the larger conversation on gambling reform throughout Australia, this move would make SA the first state or territory in Australia to pass such a law.

The ban would only be one part of a strategy aimed at keeping children from getting into play-money gambling – a hobby that many believe can lead to real gambling problems later in life.

“Research has shown that early exposure to gambling-like games may lead to some children developing problem gambling habits later in life,” Weatherill said. “I won’t stand back and watch a new generation of gambling addicts emerge. So we are going to lead the nation again by taking these steps.”

Rating System for Gambling Apps

The plan would also have SA classify apps for different age groups based on their gambling content. That would make the state the only one to date to take such a step, as national regulatory groups only rate apps based on sexual content and violence. In addition, the state government will create a watch list of websites that parents could monitor for gambling content.

“We will work together with parents, caregivers and teachers to ensure that our children can make good choices about their online activities,” Weatherill said.

Weatherill also said that he expected Apple would be willing to follow the new policy, though he could not say if the SA government would have any power to compel them to do so if they refused.

But assuming that Apple can do so on a technical level, it seems likely they would be willing to comply with the new regulations.

The mobile giant has generally taken a pro-active approach to blocking gambling apps in their Apple App Stores around the world. Their normal policy has been to only allow real-money online gambling apps in jurisdictions where online gambling is fully regulated, and only by companies that hold licenses in those jurisdictions.

For instance, this policy has meant that Apple has not allowed real-money gambling apps to be released in Australia. This has left many with the impression that Apple has banned online gambling on their devices in most countries; however, the company has no uniform online gambling policy for its users, and iPads and iPhones can typically be used to play at mobile gambling sites through their web browsers.

Policies such as those suggested by the SA government would be more difficult to implement on Android devices. The open-source nature of that platform has allowed developers to create their own apps and distribute them independently. This means that even when Google prevents real-money gambling apps from being sold in their app store, online gambling sites can offer them for download.