Google Lifts Gambling App Ban in the US

Search engine giant Google has given the online gambling industry a boost by allowing real-money gaming apps in fifteen new countries, including the United States. Allowing developers to submit apps to its Google Play store for the first time.

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Google Store to Allow More Gaming App Submissions © Pixabay.

Online gambling companies operating in emerging markets have been given a helping hand after Google, owners of the Android operating system, added fifteen new countries to the list of regions where it will accept submissions of real-money gaming apps.

The potentially highly lucrative US market is included alongside Australia, Canada, Columbia, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. The new additions almost treble the number of countries in which gaming apps are allowed, joining existing European countries on the list, including Belgium, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Romania and Finland.

For an app to be accepted in a region, the developer must have a licence to offer gambling products in the jurisdiction. The app must prevent access if used in a different region. A move that should ensure that offshore or unlicensed operators do not use the Google Play store to circumvent regulations.

Google has confirmed that these apps will only be able to be downloaded by persons over the age of eighteen, and these apps are not allowed to be paid for apps.

New international markets where betting and gaming apps will be allowed;

  • Australia– Sports betting, Daily Fantasy Sports, Lotteries.
  • Canada– Online Casino, Sports Betting, Lotteries (state run).
  • Colombia– Online Casino, Sports Betting, Lotteries (state run).
  • Japan– Sports betting including horse racing, motorboat racing, bicycle racing, auto-bicycle racing, and soccer lottery (state run).
  • Mexico– Online Casino, Sports Betting, Lotteries, Daily Fantasy Sports.
  • New Zealand– Sports Betting (state run), Lotteries (state run)

In the US, the type of apps that are allowed will depend on local laws. As gambling is legal under US federal laws, each state is free to allow (under regulation) or prohibit gambling activity. Some, for example, allow sports betting but not online casino companies. Some states allow gambling but offline only.

States which will allow gaming apps;

  • Online casino games– Delaware, Nevada (poker only), New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
  • Sports betting– Colorado, District of Columbia (state run), Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana (state run), Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon (state run), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia
  • Lotteries– Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. All these lotteries are state-run.

As well as expanding the number of countries that Google will accept real-money gaming apps, the tech giant has also said they will be increasing the scope of what an app is allowed to show. Previously prohibited, apps will be allowed to advertise gambling, real-money games and tournaments that offer a cash prize. These will be subject to the app meeting submission criteria.

These include but are not limited to; meeting local (and state if applicable) licensing requirements, ensuring the app displays responsible gambling information (and where to seek help). The app can advertise but should not link directly to real-money games and tournaments.

Mobile and web development company Degree 53 stated that the changes would create a win/win for both Google and consumers. MD Richard Wagstaff said:

“Expanding the list of countries means a bigger opportunity to grow ad revenue if operators will be promoting their products too.

“With the addition of the 15 countries, there will be other countries where gambling is regulated wondering when they will get their opportunity to distribute Android apps via Google Play,” Wagstaff added.

Android is by far the most popular OS for mobile phones. Of the new phones released in 2020, 84.8% ran on Android. Apple uses its own proprietary software IOS, which makes up the remaining 15.2% share.

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