Apple Confirms Removal Of Thousands Of Gambling Apps From Chinese App Store

News from China

Company statement reiterates warning that gambling apps are illegal in China

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Apple has confirmed the removal of “many” illegal gambling apps, along with their developers, from the Apple App Store in China.

In a company statement, Apple warned: “Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. 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.”

Elaborating on the bans, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV claimed that as many as 25,000 apps have been removed as of Sunday – less than 2 percent of the estimated 1.8 million apps on the Chinese App Store, according to industry analysts (that number has not been confirmed by Apple).

The app crackdown began early August when Apple warned developers that in order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, it would no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers.

The warning targeted both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience. The company then began unilaterally removing apps, advising the affected developers: “While you can no longer distribute gambling apps from this account, you may continue to submit and distribute other types of apps to the App Store.”

Perhaps inevitably, there have been protests that some of the banned apps had no connection with gambling at all, and that in some cases the ban extended wider than China and impacted international activity.

Media reports claim that Apple has previously caved to Chinese government demands, quoting action in July where the company removed VPN apps from its App Store. Six months prior to that, Apple reportedly pulled the The New York Times app in China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook commented last year that the company would rather not remove apps, but has a policy of following the laws of the countries in which it does business.

App stores run by other companies, including Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd, are also required to remove banned foreign content and gambling apps.