Crackdown: Developers Frustrated After Apple Bans Poker, Gambling Apps

Sean Chaffin August 20, 2018
Apple Poker

The message shocked Max Silver. “We are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers. This includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience.”

A poker player and trainer, Silver is the proprietor of the SnapShove app and it had been removed from Apple’s iOS App Store – and he didn’t know why.

“I received no email notification about the removal,” Silver told USPoker on Monday. “It wasn’t until a user messaged me saying he had a new device and was unable to download that I investigated and found we had been removed. The only notification I got was via the internal Apple control center.”

The message from Apple said SnapShove had been removed from the App Store and that Silver could no longer distribute gambling apps from the account. The company noted that it is attempting to curtail possible fraudulent activity and illegal gambling.

“In order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, we are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers,” the message from Apple reads. “This includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience.”

Why SnapShove?

The move appears not to affect apps published by larger business entities. Apple notes: “Going forward only verified accounts from incorporated business entities may submit gambling apps for distribution on the App Store.”

As of Monday afternoon, poker apps by PokerStars, the World Series of Poker, Zynga, the World Poker Tour, and numerous others by major corporations were all still available and unaffected.

SnapShove is a mobile app offering game theory optimization for shoving all in as well as calling ranges for these types of situations. The app has been on the App Store since Silver began the business in February 2016, and he bills the service and website as “the best way to learn short stack perfection.” The service’s website says it has served 54,000 poker players worldwide including World Series of Poker bracelet winners (like Silver), super high roller champions, and many of the world’s top players.

SnapShove offers free access, but also more in-depth and unlimited access for those who download the “pro” version for $14.99. Silver notes that while the app serves those working on their poker game, there is no way to gamble on the app either directly or by simulation.

“I immediately appealed the situation citing the fact that SnapShove is clearly not a gambling app either in real money or simulated gambling and was swiftly denied,” Silver says. “It seems as they are expressly going after individual developers rather than corporations.”

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Apple’s access is crucial

As a businessman as well as a player, the ban is a tough hit to SnapShove. Apple makes up about 60 percent of its revenue. Targeting individuals and entrepreneurs seems a bit unfair, but Silver says it is more frustrating because his app offers no way to directly wager or gamble. SnapShove functions as a training and tutorial medium, not as a means to play online.

“It more seems unfair that the app is clearly nothing to do with gambling or simulated gambling,” he says. “It’s no different than an app teaching blackjack basic strategy.”

As he works to remedy the situation, Silver so far has had no problems with Android devices and is sending his students to his website to access the app. He’s also looking for other solutions to get his app back up on Apple.

“I’m currently in the process of incorporating and will have SnapShove back to the App Store as soon as possible,” he says. “I’d like to apologize to any users affected.”

Incorporating takes some time and effort, however, certainly a major inconvenience. That could have at least been planned for if Silver had received more notice.

Who else is this affecting?

SnapShove isn’t the only app affected by the crackdown. MacRumors.com reports that others have also been taken down, even those unrelated at all to poker or wagering. In recent days, the company also began removing gambling and poker apps from the store in China and Norway as those governments asked the company to crack down on the offerings.

Like Silver, other independent app developers aired their frustrations on Twitter with the bans.

Apple has not commented much beyond the same message that Silver received. Developers looking to get back on the app may have to seek a similar solution that he’s looking into. In the meantime, frustration has not only come from publishers of these apps, but also from users.

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