Google Play Store to Introduce Real Money Gambling Apps in the UK, Ireland and France

In iGaming by on August 21, 2017

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The tech giant, Google Inc., announced last month that they were looking into adding real money gambling apps to their Android App Store. It was confirmed earlier this week that the company has finally relaxed its longstanding ban on gambling and betting apps. They had in fact officially updated their policy centre with detailed instructions of the requirements for gambling operators who wish to offer their products through the platform.

Google’s Android operating system has grown over the last few years to become the dominant mobile platform in the world. However, unlike their rivals, Apple’s iOS App Store, the Google Play marketplace had a ban on all real money gambling products up until now. This meant that if an Android user wanted to use any gambling apps on their mobile devices, they would have no choice but to download them directly from the operator’s gambling websites. This meant that, both organic exposure and marketing potential for these mobile products were somewhat restricted. The Google Play rules limited the potential exposure of many apps to newer customers. Not to mention, it narrowed down the developers’ ability to push updates on their existing players.

Earlier in July of 2017, the UK- based digital agency Degree 53 alerted people of this upcoming change from Google. Degree 53 works with clients like Betfred Plc., 888 Holdings Plc. and OddsChecker. They reported that Google had sent emails to many gambling companies to inform them of their imminent changes. The email notified these companies that they needed to prepare for an upcoming shift in Google Play’s gambling policy.

According to Degree 53’s Andrew Daniels, Google had informed gaming firms that these changes will come into play from August of 2017. They also mentioned that these changes were to initially be rolled out to the UK, Irish and French markets only. However, the products will most likely be rolled out to a wider audience not too much later in the future.

The email read, “ [from the] beginning of August 2017, Google will accept applications for the distribution of gambling apps within the Play store in the United Kingdom, France and the Republic of Ireland. At a later date, this policy change may be expanded to new regions and countries.”

Daniels also added that not everyone will be able to offer their apps through the Google Play store. Gaming developers will be required to submit documentary support of their licenses to operate in the jurisdictions in which they wish to make their Android apps available.

Betcade – The Android Real Money Gambling App Store

The prohibition on gambling apps in the Android marketplace is what had given rise to the short- lived gambling app store – Betcade.

Betcade was the first dedicated Android app store for real money gaming. It was launched in September of 2015 with the aim of providing casino operators with a unified, branded destination for gaming app distribution and management. They also aimed to provide players with a trusted source for gaming app discovery and download.

However, the one- stop shop for Android gamblers shut down earlier this year in January, when their business model proved unworkable. Betcade’s business model mimicked traditional online gambling affiliate and payment processing deals. So, it is anyone’s guess as to why they were incapable of sustaining their business operations. It is equally unclear whether Android’s parent company, Google’s bar on real- money gambling apps had anything to do with it. Some seem to think that Google may have expressed displeasure at having its mobile product linked with gambling operations and therefore could have put pressure on Betcade investors to pull their support.

Less than six months after the gambling app store had announced their shut down, Google Play has changed their policy on gambling apps. As of now it is still unclear what role, if any, Betcade’s brief existence may have played in Google’s decision to finally roll back its betting ban.

There were some signs of this seismic shift in their policy back in 2015. Back then the company announced a “closed, limited pilot” program that would permit real- money daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting apps in the US Google Play store. Prior to that, DFS apps available via Google Play had been limited to statistics monitoring functionality. To access the real- money betting apps, customers would still have to visit the sites from the DFS operators themselves.

New Rules for Real – Money App Developers from the Google Play Developer Policy Centre

The Google Play Developer Policy Centre has updated their rules for real money gambling apps. While it has already been established that these apps may only be offered to UK, Irish and French customers, there is a list of other rules that apply to all the operators.

Firstly, each developer will have to successfully complete the application process in order to get permission for the distribution of their app on the Google Play platform,

Unsurprisingly, it will also be the developer’s responsibility to ensure that the app comply with all applicable laws and industry standards for any country in which they wish to distribute their products.

Every developer must have a valid gambling license for each country in which the app is to be distributed in order to offer their gambling app on Google Play. They must first supply documentary evidences to Google of this paperwork before their app can be put up on the store for download.

Another requirement that these gambling operators will have to abide by under the new scheme is managing and monitoring age restrictions. They operators need to implement a block on underage players, who may want to use these apps. By design the app must prevent under- age users from gaining access to their products through the Google Play services.

As mentioned, all real money gambling apps will firstly be launched to a limited marketplace. While this is likely to be expanded to others areas soon, there must be measures in place to ensure that apps are prevented from use in countries that are not covered by the developer- provided gambling license.

None of the gambling apps will be allowed to use Google payments services for collecting money from their users. This will also include the use of Google Play In-app Billing system as well.

Google has also announced that these gambling apps must be free to download and install from the Store for all their customers. Additionally, the apps must carry a rated of AO, which stands for (Adult Only) or one that is IARC equivalent

Lastly, the app listings must all clearly display information about responsible gambling and the operator and developer must make sure that suitable measures are being taken to prevent people with gambling addictions from gaining access to certain services from the store.

Google Play

Google Play, which was formerly known as the Android Market, is a digital distribution service. The store was developed by technology firm Google Inc.; and the company continues to operate and monitor the platform. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system. All apps listed on the platform have to be developed using the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and published through Google. Users can then browse and download these applications from the store.

Google Play also serves as a digital media store for these customers. They offer music, magazines, books, movies, and television programs for free and paid download through the system.

Google Play was launched on the 6th of March 2012. It brought together the Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore under one brand. This marked a significant shift in Google’s digital distribution strategy. The services that are now operating under the Google Play banner are Google Play Books, Google Plat Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Google Play Newsstand. Following their rebranding, Google has gradually expanded the geographical support for each of the services to more and more locations around the world.

Google Pay previously also offered Google hardware devices for purchase through their store. On the 11th of March 2015, however, the company decided to split their software and hardware shops into two distinct entities. They launched a separate online hardware retailer and named it Google Store.

Just like media from Google Play, apps on the platform are available for download. They are either free of charge or downloaded at a cost. They can be downloaded directly on an Android device through the Play Store mobile app or by deploying the app to a device from the Google Play website.

More than 2.7 million apps had been published on the Google Play store between their launch at the start of 2017. They had also reported earlier last year, in 2016, that more than 82 billion app had been downloaded from the store since it was founded.

The store has been the subject of multiple issues concerning security till date. On more than one occasion, malicious software (malware) had been approved and uploaded to the store and downloaded by users, with varying degrees of severity.