Gambling apps are back on Google, while most casual observers may not have known they were ever here before.
Google Announces Return
The news that Google was lifting its ban against real-money gambling apps actually came out last month. Now, Google has officially updated its policy centre to reflect the change while indicating how gambling operators can get their products up inside the play store
Conditions for Operators Apps
Operator requirements include possession of a valid license to provide gambling services in a regulated jurisdiction; demonstration of commitment and ability to prevent use of the app in countries where the license does not apply; and effective prevention of underage users from gambling.
Another key regulation is the mandate that the App is rated AO (Adult Only) or IARC equivalent; with iGaming Apps and listings clearly displaying information about responsible gambling.
Initial Limited Availability
At present, gambling apps are accessible only in Google Play stores in the UK, Ireland and France, while still restricted from using Google payments services including Google Play In-app Billing.
Related Policy Change
Another internal ban that Google has lifted is the ban on gambling advertising within Google Play-distributed apps. Remaining restrictions are in the areas of licensing, age-appropriateness and responsible gambling.
Gambling App History
When Google banned gambling apps back in 2013, this allowed competitor Apple IOS to increase its market share of iGaming. Google returned to real money play in limited from in 2015 by allowing real-money daily fantasy sports apps to appear in the US Google Play store.
IOS Benefited Competitively
Google likely can’t bear to allow the IOS competition to rule the roost in any area of cyber-competition, which becomes the greater priority than the moral argument against allowing or facilitating real money play.
Of the rollout, a Google spokesperson stated that "We're experimenting with rolling out real money gambling apps in select markets over the next few weeks that ensures user safety," the spokesperson said, "as part of our continued effort to offer new experiences on Google Play."
Watching the Change
While Google is allowing real money pay apps back in the store, this has to be seen as still in the experimental or slow rollout stage. Factors such as competition, revenues, and rapidity of downloading of the apps will be telling indicators of the full range of organizational motives, environmental forces, and guiding priorities of the Google release.