Apple Pauses Gambling App Ads In App Store

Written By TJ McBride on November 2, 2022

With gambling, online casino platforms and sports betting emerging, there are clear rough edges that need to be softened. Apple’s recent bungle is a perfect example of this issue. 

Apple makes a large amount of money providing advertising space across multiple slots on their platforms. As gambling continues to grow more and more prevalent, many online gambling websites throw themselves at any advertising slots they deemed worthy of their brand. In this case, the advertising slot being referred to is the “You Might Also Like” section of Apple’s App Store. 

Simply, there has seemingly been little oversight as to how these advertisements pop up and under which apps they appear. This has led to a flood of sports betting, gambling and online casino apps entering the App Store. 

“In searching the names of more than 100 popular apps, more than 80 percent of the ads on those product pages were for gambling or sports betting apps, or other controversial ads,” according to Inc.com. “In some cases, ads for casino apps appeared on product pages for recovery apps.”

Apple takes action to remove gambling ads

Apple did work quickly to pause all ads involving gambling and other relevant product pages. Still, this is only a pause of gambling and other advertisements, not a stoppage. They will return likely when a more refined policy is put into place.

Apple did not respond to questions from Inc. about its current policy. The company did provide a statement saying they have “paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories.”

Online gambling websites, online sports books, and other betting-focused platforms present clear issues that can arise if left unchecked. Advertising sports betting or online gambling when consumers are searching for recovery apps is obviously problematic. Adult-themed ads popping up on apps that seem to be clearly intended for children is also an issue.  

This creates an interesting dynamic between gambling-based websites, search engines such as Apple’s App Store, and the consumers existing in both spaces. 

Sports betting is being legalized at a furious pace across the country, and legal sports betting in California could be on the horizon. Partnerships between teams, casinos and gambling operators are already being formed ahead of Election Day.

This is an industry that is now firmly entrenched in society. There is simply too much money involved in the business of sports betting and gambling for it to slow its expansion. That is why Apple and other massive companies with an extreme amount of advertising space  have quickly accepted the money from gambling companies. It would be idiotic from a business point of view to ignore such growth potential.

Conflicts abound for tech giants

While the gambling industry and big tech companies work together to make each other even more money, consumers and other companies using the App Store are being pushed out. In cases like the one involving recovery apps, those users are being sabotaged.

It feels like the giants of the economic world are snuffing out these smaller companies looking to make their own name or help others with their platforms they  created. The evidence proves they have a point.  

This issue is a part of a larger concern. There could be big changes coming to big tech. Should these tech companies be held accountable for the type of issues they are creating? Or is the onus on the consumer?

That debate is significantly more messy, complex and requires more nuance. There is little doubt, though, that this problem Apple is dealing with presents another wrinkle in the constant battle between consumers and tech titans.

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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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