What is “The Law of the App” and how do you comply with it?
Nov23

What is “The Law of the App” and how do you comply with it?

Gaming operators have for years now been grappling with the full spectrum of legal requirements that apply to their online operations. Reputable online operators have, therefore, already developed a great degree of familiarity with issues like data protection, consumer law, advertising law and of course gambling regulation and the way in which these impact their online operations. However, with more and more operators now launching mobile gaming products (whether native device apps, web-based apps or mobile websites) and with a host of recent developments in this space, from new app store rules through to regulatory investigations, gaming lawyers are increasingly being asked an important question: what specific legal issues apply to mobile gaming products that might not necessarily apply to existing website-based offerings? In other words, is there such a thing as “The Law of the App” and, if so, what steps must operators take to comply with it? Understanding “The Law of the Platform” Such is the dominance of a limited number of mobile app platforms like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android that their rules have become essential reading for any organisation with a mobile strategy. Effectively enacted via contract law through platform terms and conditions, “The Law of the Platform” can nonetheless have an even greater impact on operators’ products than the overriding legal framework of statute, case law and regulation. Changes to the Apple or Android terms can happen very quickly (and without the political, consultation or legislative processes preceding new laws or regulations). At their most extreme, they can create entirely new opportunities for operators or they can close off valuable revenue streams entirely. In practice, the key terms that organisations need to focus on are the developer or SDK terms (the terms that much be accepted in order to build an app for the platform in question), approval policies for the app (relevant to Apple’s iOS and others, less so to Android) and the app store terms governing how the app is marketed and sold and how in-app purchases work. These terms are generally available via the platform developer websites, although in some cases the applicable terms can be harder to obtain (for example, a developer account and login may be required for certain Apple terms), in which case lawyers may need to work with developers to get hold of them. Apple iOS and Android are currently the two dominant platforms and both have recently updated their platform rules specifically in relation to gaming apps. In August 2013, Apple updated its App Store Guidelines. The rules require that apps offering real-money gaming must have the necessary licences and permissions in the locations in which...

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Welcome to Connected Asia
Nov19

Welcome to Connected Asia

Thanks for visiting Connected Asia. Connected Asia is a blog about tech,  media, gaming and sport in Asia. Right now it’s really a work in progress but there’s more to come soon. Bear with me. Connected Asia is about how the unparalleled and explosive growth in connectivity in Asia is driving all kinds of amazing new technologies and business models in the tech, media, gaming and sports sectors. It’s also about the legal and commercial challenges this growth is creating. Connected Asia is mostly written by Matt Pollins, who’s a lawyer based in Singapore (and originally based in London). Matt is part of the team at Olswang Asia. Olswang is one of the world’s leading tech, media and telecoms law firms with offices in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich and Singapore and an international network of best friend firms. If you’re interested in any of the topics discussed here, please do get in touch. It wouldn’t be a legal blog without a disclaimer. Views expressed on Connected Asia are the author’s own and nothing on Connected Asia constitutes legal advice or creates a lawyer-client relationship. Photo of the laser show at Marina Bay Sands by erwinsoo, who takes some amazing photos of...

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Singapore: online gambling regulation on the way?
May10

Singapore: online gambling regulation on the way?

The Singapore Government has once again confirmed that it is considering new measures to restrict online gambling. In a speech on 10 May a Government spokesperson confirmed that it is monitoring the regulatory approaches taken in other jurisdictions with a view to imposing new measures. It has also put a timeframe on the review process – confirming that it should be complete by the end of the year. In line with its previous statements on the subject, the Government’s concerns are once again focused on a desire to provide protection for citizens from issues of addiction. Given the relaxation of the land-based casino industry recently, some might wonder whether the Government is going to be tempted to relax the online regime in a similar way. That is unlikely – the relaxation of casino regulation was influenced by economic factors that are not so relevant to the online market (largely tourism and employment) and consequently this is not necessarily a useful indicator of the likely approach to online regulation. The jurisdictions mentioned by the Government include Hong Kong, Norway, the UK, France, Australia and the US – so they cover a very broad range of regulatory approaches, from proscriptive / restrictive through to relatively “open”. On the one hand, this might suggest that it is considering some form of licensing regime. On the other hand, the Government’s policy seems to have “complete eradication” of online gambling in mind, albeit that it acknowledges that technological change will render that difficult. It is certainly difficult to imagine Singapore opting for a more “open” model such as that in the UK and it seems more likely that any framework would be a combination of proscriptive and licensing. In any event, we should now find out which path the Government is going to choose by the end of this year. Photo of Marina Bay Sands is “Singapore”, by Luca...

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