Apple Allows Some Promotions on iPhone Apps

RegHardware reports that Apple recently changed the terms of its iPhone Software Development Kit (“SDK”) to allow companies to offer certain promotional games on apps. Although some reports circulating online suggest that Apple is allowing companies to run lotteries” on the iPhone, that is not exactly right.

Section 3.3.17 of the SDK states: Your Application may include promotional sweepstakes or contest functionality provided that You are the sole sponsor of the promotion and that You and Your Application comply with any applicable laws.” In addition, developers must clearly state in binding official rules for each promotion that Apple is not a sponsor of, or responsible for conducting, the promotion.” (As we discussed in a previous post, Facebook included a similar requirement in its Promotions Guidelines.)

Keep in mind that laws in the United States -- and laws in most foreign jurisdictions -- prohibit private parties from running lotteries. In general, a lottery includes the following three elements: (1) a prize; (2) awarded on the basis of chance; (3) to people who were required to pay consideration. Therefore, you can’t require people to pay money to enter a chance-based promotion.

Although Apple’s SDK does give developers more flexibility, it doesn’t permit them to violate laws.