PlaySugarHouse was the first online sportsbook to make its way into the fledgling online Pennsylvania sports betting market. You can access the PlaySugarHouse.com website on your computer and if you are within Pennsylvania state lines, you will be redirected to the correct site. It’s also possible to download the SugarHouse Sportsbook app if you are an Android user. However, for those online sports bettors with an iPhone in PA, there is no SugarHouse iOS app for you to place your wagers.
The issue was originally believed to be related to an identical issue as SugarHouse copied its mobile web page and New Jersey app in a new app exclusively for Pennsylvania. However, it has become apparent that the reason of access for Apple users is far more complex and troublesome for the industry as-a-whole.
Apple Goes to War with Online Gaming
Here’s the thing; Apple dropped the bombshell on the online gaming industry last week when the tech giant announced iOS gambling apps will now be required to be built natively rather than as HTML container apps.
Building and maintaining container apps, known by those in the tech field as “wrappers,” rather than doing it natively is a simpler, quicker and more less expensive option for online sportsbooks and online casinos to build apps and thereby gain access to Apple’s App Store.
However, with the overwhelming majority of gambling apps simply retooled HTML5 products and websites, there is now a rush on to find appropriate solutions. This situation has been made all the more urgent by the situation that Apple has set a deadline of September 3 for all existing apps to adhere to their new and all-encompassing rules.
Looking at the updated App Store Review Guidelines, published on June 3, it states quite clearly and without confusion;
“HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce. This functionality is only appropriate for code that’s embedded in the binary and can be reviewed by Apple. This guideline is now enforced for new apps. Existing apps must follow this guideline by September 3, 2019.”
Breaking down the Apple policy into its simplest terms; HTML5 is a version of coding language, and most online sportsbooks and online casino games are written in it. This code works very well on iPhones, however, it the code is not designed for use on any one specific operating system. Apple want to convert all of this code over onto its native iOS platform, so they can control the system exclusively, and they want it completed within a 3 month period.
Bad Timing for Online Sportsbooks
Given that the first NFL game of the season is on September 5, meeting Apple’s September 3 deadline is of vital importance to online sportsbooks. The start of the NFL season is by far the time of year attracting the largest numbers of new online sports betting customers.
In states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania, this will be their first full NFL season with online sports betting, which makes easy new customer acquisition critical. Moreover, in New Jersey 80% of the value of all the Garden State’s sports wagers are placed on a phone, and Apple users outpace Android users by a significant margin.
If the situation remains without resolution by the time the NFL season begins, the industry will become more boisterous. In theory, sportsbooks that are part of a larger online casino maybe affected more, while standalone sports betting apps might be affected considerably less.
Watch this space for further developments as the issue unfolds.