Apple today confirmed it has removed “many” illegal gambling apps, and developers distributing them, from its App Store in China.
“Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China,” Apple said in a statement Monday. “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.”
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said 25,000 apps have been removed as of Sunday—which would be less than two percent of the estimated 1.8 million apps on the App Store in the country—but Apple hasn’t confirmed any numbers.
Apple began cracking down on gambling-related apps earlier this month, providing affected developers with the following explanation:
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 includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience.
As a result, this app has been removed from the App Store. 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.
Apple notes that verified accounts from incorporated business entities may still submit gambling apps for distribution on the App Store.
MacRumors reported on Apple’s crackdown on gambling-related apps in the App Store earlier this month, noting that some apps that have been banned as a result appear to have very little to do with gambling at all. Most of the apps have been removed from the App Store not only in China, but around the world.
Apple’s move follows the Chinese state media scrutinizing the company earlier this month for allowing illegal content like gambling apps and spam messages to be distributed freely through the App Store and iMessage. As for the latter, Apple is reportedly working with Chinese carriers to reduce iMessage spam.
This isn’t the first time Apple has catered to Chinese government demands. Last July, for example, the company removed VPN apps from the App Store in China. Six months prior, Apple pulled the The New York Times app in China.
“We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook last year.
All of this comes amid growing tensions between the United States and China over trade.
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