Apple is halting the dissemination of wager-related advertisements on product pages in the App Store following backlash from developers.
Reports surfaced that developers recently spotted an influx of ads tied to potentially dubious online gaming entities appearing throughout the App Store. The ads included in the “you might like” section — an area in which Apple, using technology, recommends other apps to users based on their viewing history.
TechCrunch reported some developers spotted betting ads in a section of the App Store devoted to helping people with problematic betting habits.
He added on Wednesday that it appeared as though Apple pulled betting-related ads from the App Store, but “the general category of use disorder apps still serves casino games.”
Apple’s Had Run-Ins With Betting Apps
Google Play and Apple’s App Store are the two dominant venues for app downloads. Both companies have had their share of controversies with gaming-related apps, even those where real money isn’t at stake. The companies have come under fire because it’s believed they get a cut of bettor’s winnings and losses from developers of casino gaming-esque apps.
Previously, Apple sought to head off some of the controversy tied to presence of gaming content in the App Store. For example, in 2019, the company told developers of such content — even the apps where real money isn’t at stake — must be rated as appropriate only for users 17-years-old and up.
Later that year, Apple mandated that all developers, regardless of content, have products that are “native,” or rooted in the iOS operating system. Over time, the company has also removed thousands of Chinese gaming apps from the App Store and booted betting content in select countries.
Unrelated to the aforementioned app imbroglio, Google parent Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook owner Meta Platforms are facing litigation. The legal actions were brought by plaintiffs claiming they spend tens of thousands of dollars on in-app purchases in casino-style games downloaded from those companies app platforms.
The plaintiffs claim the tech companies are culpable because they served as payment processors for the app developers. The case is being considered by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
For Apple, It’s All About Dollars
Apple confirmed to some publications that it did remove the gaming ads and those for several other categories. But developers still decry the point that betting spots were appearing in spaces totally unrelated to wagering. In a hypothetical example under the old policy, it would be possible for a sportsbook ad to appear in the app areas for books and photography.
Still, developers decried the use of gaming ads in the first place. They pondered why a company with a market capitalization of $2.26 trillion wants the pennies associated with the betting ads.
For its part, Apple sees opportunity to challenge Alphabet and Meta in the online advertising realm, leveraging the App Store to do that. By some estimates, Apple is already bringing in $4 billion annually from online ads, and that figure is forecast to grow exponentially in the years ahead.
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