Apple Store Scandal – Online Casino in Kid’s Game

apple app store scandal online casino hidden in a kid game

An online casino personating as an iOS game for children managed to slip through Apple’s strict review process. It was later removed. The chameleon app possibly exposed children to online gambling.

News Highlights

  • The JungleRunner 2K21 app was a chameleon app, mimicking a children’s game
  • Online gambling has been illegal in Turkey since 2016
  • In 2019, Apple and Google removed hundreds of chameleon apps

The JungleRunner 2K21 Scam

App developer, Kosta Eleftheriou, discovered that JungleRunner 2K21, an app claiming to be a children’s game for those aged four and above, was an online casino. Taking to Twitter, Eleftheriou noted:

This @AppStore app pretends to be a silly platformer game for children 4+, but if I set my VPN to Turkey and relaunch, it becomes an online casino that doesn’t even use Apple’s IAP.

Kosta Eleftheriou

The developer of JungleRunner 2K21, Colin Malachireportedly has another gambling app called Magical Forest – Puzzle. This is a children’s jigsaw game that connects to a Turkish online casino through a VPN server in Turkey.

Jungle Runner Scam

jungle runner app scam

The icon and the description of JungleRunner 2K21 fell in line with that of a game for children. Misleadingly, it violates Apple’s regulations.

The technology company does allow gambling apps in the App Store, yet it requires local operators to abide by laws and regulations. Online casinos for mobile devices –including Apple– must be geo-restricted and should be free to play. In Turkey, online gambling has been illegal since 2016.

According to Eleftheriou, the casino operator behind the gambling app has a questionable reputation. Reviews of the app detail that people had paid large amounts of money to receive a bonus they didn’t receive.

What is a Chameleon App?

Apple Apps

Chameleon apps are those that conceal their real purpose. In this instance, the JungleRunner 2K21 app hid its true identity, online gambling.

By portraying itself as a children’s game, it circumvented Apple’s rules and potentially exposed children to the risks of online gambling.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has come under fire for failing to remove these so-called chameleon apps. In 2018, the Chinese state media argued that Apple wasn’t doing enough to protect its citizens from apps that feature gambling.

Apple Wiped Hundreds of Chamaleon Apps

Apple Logo

However, in 2019, Apple and Google announced that they had successfully removed hundreds of these chameleon gambling apps, ranging from weather, wine, and entertainment apps. Notably, some of these fake apps were found in the Top 100 lists and rated over 100,000 times.

In 2020, Apple said that it had terminated more than 500,000 developer accounts for fraud, whereas 60 million user reviews were considered fake.

How to Play Online Safely?

Safe and Secure Online United States Casinos Badge

In the online gaming world, it’s essential to consider your safety. Whether you’re someone who’s playing for the first time or a veteran who’s familiar with the ropes of gameplay, there are a few things that players should look out for when playing at online casinos to avoid falling for scams. 

What to Look for When Gambling Online

Here at OUSC, we’ve put together online reviews where readers can find out more about the different reliable websites. We’ve also included below few guidelines to follow when picking a legitimate casino site.

Choosing an Online Casino Customer Service Banner

Positive Reviews

Customer reviews will often give you a better feel for an online casino to determine whether it’s legit or not. Most customers won’t hold back on their feelings for a particular casino, so you can trust when they have to say.

Safe & Secure Banner

Trusted Software Developers

A few trusted software developers include Betsoft, RTG, and Dragon Gaming. Look out for some of these when playing at a casino site where you can enjoy a high-quality gaming experience.

Valid Gaming Licenses banner

Valid Game Licenses

Only the safest and legitimate online casinos will display a valid game license on their website. If not, you can ask them for this, which they should provide upon request.

reliable banking banner

Reliable Banking

The safest online gambling sites will have a selection of trusted banking options for customers to deposit and make withdrawals. These include credit cards and Bitcoin.

Will Apple Tighten Controls to Prevent App Scams?

It’s not known how many people were affected by the JungleRunner 2K21 scam app, nor is it known how much money was lost as a result. However, it highlights the sneaky ways some developers will work to get around Apple’s restrictions. 

While the outcome of removing this online casino is a good one, it likely won’t be the last time that such an occurrence takes place. It’s on Apple to tighten controls and ensure the apps they approve aren’t scams.


About the Author
Karen Esposito

Karen Esposito - Reviewer / Editor

Gambling enthusiast, with a passion for table games like poker and blackjack. You can find usually find her investigating the latest games and industry updates.