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Apple vs. Gambling apps, is the poker industry at risk?

Recently Apple announced new requirements that will be enforced on September 3rd, 2019, to all gambling applications allowing real money games. What are these changes, and how can affect the online poker industry?

Apple vs. Gambling apps, is the poker industry at risk?

Gambling and poker apps: the latest industry development

In 2017 PokerMaster gave its first step overseas, and we can consider that as the beginning of the latest poker boom: play online poker from a phone against Chinese players. PokerMaster was not the first poker app available for mobile devices: years before even PokerStars launched a mobile client for iOS and Android users; but, it was, in fact, the first app using the innovative agent model which uses play money chips for real money games granting access to players living in restricted markets like China. 

New rules for gambling apps in the App Store

To improve the security of iOS users, Apple has decided to require that all gambling applications offering access to real money games cannot be HTML5 based and must be written in iOS native code. The casino industry widely uses HTML5 because it's effortless and fast to add hundreds of games using HTML5. What it means is that any real money gambling app that wants to stay in the App Store must rewrite the code from scratch.

Applications developers were surprised by the rush to make this decision. The deadline is only three months, and most of the developers cannot coordinate such an effort (hiring new developers, testing, etc.), and most likely they will see their applications vanish from the App Store. Of course, we are interested in the effects that these new rules may have in the online poker industry.

Implications of the new App Store rules for the poker industry

The Chinese mobile poker rooms and applications such as PPPoker won't experience significant issues due to the new Apple requirements. As a matter of fact, in some countries, PPPoker is not even listed in the App Store because the Global Tournament tab has real money prizes. Also, most of the poker applications in the App Store are developed in iOS code, with some exceptions like MPN new client (Prima).

It is also known that developers of poker applications take advantage of the "Enterprise App" feature, with which players can manually trust developers and install applications outside the App Store environment. Therefore, applications like PPPoker, HiPoker, FirePoker, etc. won't be affected at all by the new App Store rules.

Conclusion

The new Apple rules will mainly affect the casino industry, which was the one that widely embraced HTML5 as a standard. Most likely, only the most prominent companies will have new applications ready to launch before the deadline, but it's a fact that hundreds of apps will disappear from the App Store. Online poker industry will be unaffected for now, but the big question is, for how long Apple will allow users to use the "Enterprise App" feature?

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Vargoso 03.07.19
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