Google Play Store to Allow Real Money Gambling Apps in 15 More Countries

  • The policy change comes into effect on March 1 and includes the United States
  • UK, French, Irish, and Brazilian Play Stores already allow real money gambling apps
  • The types of gambling apps available will depend on local laws and licensing
  • Developers will have to hold a local gambling license, complete an application process
  • Google and Apple have faced lawsuits over certain social casino app offerings
Google Play button
Google Play Store will be able to offer real money gambling apps in 15 more countries starting March 1. [Image:]

A growing list

Google has announced a March 1 policy change that will allow real money gambling apps to become available on the Google Play Store in 15 more countries. The announcement on Thursday outlined how the change in policy means

more developers around the world can build sustainable businesses, and in a way that helps keep consumers safe.”

Currently, only the UK, French, Irish, and Brazilian Play Stores can offer real money gambling apps. These apps cover sports betting, casino games, daily fantasy sports, and lotteries. The countries that will benefit from the upcoming policy change are the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Belgium, Colombia, Finland, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Romania. 

In the United States, the types of real money gambling apps that will be available to download through the Play Store will vary on a state-by-state basis. The same variation will occur in other countries on the list that have restrictions on certain types of online gambling.

Android users in regions that cannot access real money gambling apps on the Play Store have to download an APK, or Android Package, from the gambling operator’s website. The person then has to sideload the app onto their device, which can carry some risks.

Strict rules in place

For gambling-related apps to make it onto the Play Store in the 15 new countries going on the list, the app developer needs to complete an application procedure. The software must also be compliant with the given region’s laws and standards, while the developer will need to hold a gambling license in the relevant jurisdiction. 

“Adult Only” use to help prevent underage gambling

The apps will be for “Adult Only” use to help prevent underage gambling. As part of additional requirements, nobody outside of the approved regions should be able to access the apps. App downloads must be free and cannot utilize the Google Pay billing system. 

If any apps try to bypass the approval process or commit serious or numerous violations, the app will be fully removed. Google also has stringent rules in place for gambling-related operators who want to advertise through its network.

Issues with social casino apps

Android’s big rival in the mobile phone space, Apple, already allows real money gambling apps on its app stores. Both companies have been subject to legal action over the past year for offering certain types of free-to-play social casino products.

The said apps provide users with free chips to play popular casino games. They also offer the option of buying in-game currency using real money, but players have no way to cash out the in-game currency. As a result, people have spent significant sums of money on these games with no chance of getting a return.

Last October, Google and Apple faced legal action in Alabama over these types of social casino apps, with lawsuits claiming the apps were illegal under state law. Only last week, Apple was on the receiving end of another similar lawsuit in California. The complaint alleges that the tech giant is allowing users to play illegal online slot machines through apps in California and getting a 30% share of all app revenue.

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