Google has relaxed its strict rules against allowing gambling apps on the Google Play Store, expanding their availability in 14 more countries. Previously, gambling apps were only allowed on the Google Play Store in four countries: UK, Ireland, France, and Brazil.
This announcement comes just after their anti-gambling ad tool released just last month.
The official Google Play Store will allow real money gambling apps from its official store for the Android OS. These apps are already available in the previous four mentioned countries. The notable country additions from this announcement include the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Spain.
Real money gambling apps were already available for Android devices, but not from the official store. Players would have to use an alternative method—one that may pose a security risk—to install these apps. Methods included other brand-specific app stores or directly from the app maker’s website.
More than a security risk, though, was the exclusion of warnings for minors. By allowing gambling apps on the official Google Play Store, Google can better regulate the install base.
The four types include Pay n Play online casinos, lottery, daily fantasy sport, and sports betting. Even if an app technically falls under one of these four categories, it is only classified as a gambling app if it requires real money to play.
This differentiation has caused much confusion for Android users and gambling app makers. Many of these apps have been available for years on the Google Play Store in their respective countries.
What’s more, is that there are specific requirements to meet in each country. Google may have given some overarching guidelines to follow, but the successful release of a real money gambling app also depends on that country’s rules where it will be released.
The country-specific requirements mostly have an effect on the type of gambling app that can be released. For example, Germany only allows sports betting and lottery apps at the moment because of their online gambling regulations.
But then there is the issue of state-operated lotteries. In some countries, the state operates all casino games and lotteries and can pick-and-choose which game makers will be allowed to release their own gambling apps.
There are many apps available right now that use gambling-like features, such as loot boxes. These features have been fought over for years by consumer rights advocates and supporters, especially for minors and underage players.
The fear is that if gambling apps become too readily available, susceptible minds will begin to grow an affinity towards gambling. Gambling apps may provide a warning against minors, but those warnings are easily overlooked and ignored.