Apple Fooled by Gambling Apps Masquerading as Games

3 Mins read

Apple is in the spotlight, and this time it’s for all the wrong reasons. The tech giant’s nightmare started when the app reviewer and scam software hunter, Kosta Elftheriou, bumped into an exciting gaming application for kids that turned out to be an online casino app. This is the first case where Apple has reported a chameleon casino app, and the news has sent the tech and gambling world into absolute chaos.

The app, dubbed JungleRunner 2K21, is a kids’ game where players control a running monkey while collecting bananas. The game worked well for Kosta until he turned his VPN to Turkey and relaunched the app. To his surprise, he was led directly to a Turkish-based online casino. Apple has since pulled the app down, but there are still many concerns from customers as there may be more chameleon applications online. The case reveals how sophisticated the black gambling market has got over the years and the extreme ends they can go to get their product out.

What are chameleon apps?

Chameleon apps are dummy applications developed to conceal their true identity unless accessed by the targeted customer, in this case, young Turkish gamblers. Desperate operators often launch these apps in highly regulated sectors such as the cryptocurrency and gambling industries. You can also read about SAgaming, SAGame is the most popular online gaming site at the moment. You can find endorsements for the SAGame website almost anywhere in the online world.

Do Indian Casinos have chameleon apps?

None of the prominent Indian Casino names have been implicated so far in these sinister marketing techniques. At least from our research, reputable casinos such as 10CRIC India have maintained not masquerade their casino apps. But does not mean it won’t happen in the future. 

According to Kosta, smaller and less known casinos are often involved in such skirmishes. For instance, the app reviewer established that the JungleRunner 2K21 led to a poorly-rated illegal Turkish-based online gambling site. The operator had hundreds of negative customer reviews, with a majority complaining of how the operator scams money from unwary newbies with a promise of heavenly bonuses.

The app developer identified as Colin Malachi also has another chameleon app on his portfolio dubbed Magical Forest- Puzzle, which is a Jigsaw puzzle game for children but a Turkish Online casino in real sense. Therefore, there is a chance that illegal unregistered Indian operators use chameleon applications to market their services, but as far as we know, none of the top sites are linked to these claims.

Is the App Store safe for children?

The main concern for Apple users is the integrity of the Appstore’s system. According to Kosta, the application has been lying hidden in plain sight for months and even got software updates approved by Apple’s team. The story has parents asking whether their children are safe from such predatory applications. Luckily, the JungleRunner 2K21 only launches its casino site in Turkey, hence only a concern for Turkish parents. However, we are not sure if there are such apps targeting Indian citizens. This revelation led to the review of all applications by Apple, with the tech producers promising a vigilant future.

Why Turkey?

Well, Turkey banned all forms of online gaming in 2006 and has since been reluctant to revise its regulations. Therefore, Turkish online casinos operate illegally and use ingenious ways to get sign-ups. The State’s authorities are hardline on rogue operators, and violations carry hefty fines and long jail terms.

Previous cases

Apple has often been criticized for its laxity in enforcing the integrity of applications on its system. In February, Kosta Elftheriou exposed dozens of multi-billion scamming apps hosted by Apple. Kosta reported that dozens of applications on Appstore are clones and therefore illegitimate, but Apple chooses to remain silent on the issue. The exposure gained online support, and Apple was forced to suspend some applications from Appstore, but their developers still hold rights to publication on the platform.

The recent revelation on chameleon apps has had everyone’s attention considering that the apps risk exposing kids to gambling. The United States takes child gambling seriously, and Apple might be slapped with lawsuits for its laxity in implementing its customer protection policies. Nonetheless, the App Store allows gambling apps on its platform as long as they are geo-locked to regions where they have legal licenses of operations.

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