I admit it. I’ve been playing Pokemon Go since the popular mobile gaming app was first released. Could it be called addictive? Sure. But the same can be said of PC and console games. Who among us hasn’t (or knows someone who hasn’t) lost sleep playing MMO-RPGs? What I can’t wrap my head around is the alleged connection between Pokemon Go and gambling.
In many African and Asian country’s – particularly in the Middle East – the immensely popular mobile app by Ninatic has been banned, for one reason or another. Egypt and Saudi Arabia banned Pokemon Go for what they call religious reasons, claiming it’s addictive nature encourages gambling, and promotes polytheism (the belief in or worship of more than one God).
When playing Pokemon Go, gambling takes no form. Anyone who’s spent any significant amount of time (and that’s probably a lot of you) playing the game should know that.
The game does supply virtual coins that can be used to acquire special in-game items and privileges, and those coins can be purchased for real money. But they cannot be used anywhere outside the game, nor can they be traded between players or returned to the game server for real money.
Pokemon Go and gambling just don’t mix. It’s as simple as that.
Legitimate Reasons for Pokemon Go Ban?
As for polytheism, I can’t really picture anyone bowing and spouting praise upon Niantic, or a freshly evolved Gyarados (400 Magikarp candies can be hard to come by!). But I do realize some regions have very strict and deeply embodied religious beliefs, so I’ll concede that one.
I can also understand Iran’s imposition of a ban on Pokemon Go, as officials there found the game to be a security hazard among citizens who were wandering in dangerous territories seeking to capture those vibrant little creatures.
The most humorous cause of Pokemon Go bans, in my opinion, is its proclaimed encouragement of laziness among users, especially high-ranking officials. Bali, Indonesia invoked a ban for that very reason, as their political and business leaders were so engrossed in Pokemon Go, they were failing to perform their administrative duties.
Potential Espionage Could Lead To More Bans
Back in July, security technicians in Russia issued a warning concerning Pokemon Go’s (and other relative apps) abilities to collect inordinate amounts of user data. It can identify players, turn on cameras and pinpoint exact locations via GPS, keeping that information on record for a period of time. It also requires a valid email address, which opens the door to possible email hacking. For Gmail account users, the game’s permissions grant access to read and modify emails, locations and contacts.
The Russians even speculated that the app may have been purposely developed as a cyber-espionage tool by western security services.
That prompted officials in Pakistan to schedule a security advisory in which technical departments will discuss the potential for electronic espionage, and even eavesdropping via apps like Pokemon Go.
Gambling on security is a serious matter, and one that could lead to more bans against such mobile apps around the world, at least for all members of political offices, if not entire populations.
Government officials often use their computers and mobile devices to conduct sensitive business, including the transmission of classified material. The security advisory has warned officials not to download Pokemon Go or other mobile apps with such massive data collecting capabilities.
Other apps under scrutiny include WhatsApp and social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Skype.
Pokemon Go Safe In Australia?
While Pokemon Go has not been banned in Australia, the government has formed a markedly negative opinion towards the mobile gaming app that could lead to its prohibition in the future.