- Google is expanding support for real-money gambling apps in certain countries beginning June 2024, including India, Mexico, and Brazil, with further expansion planned for other countries in the near future.
- The company will continue to enforce age-gating and geo-gating to ensure user safety and compliance with local regulations.
- The expansion of support for gambling apps may lead to increased competition among developers, but the risks of real-money gambling should not be overlooked.
While it’s true that mobile games can be a fun way to pass the time, they can go well beyond that once real money is at stake. Any form of gambling can be habit-forming, which is why many governments have policies in place to regulate this kind of gaming. However, these regulations vary according to region, and not all countries have legislation that restricts gambling — even in the form of a mobile app. Now, Google is loosening its Play Store policies to make room for what it’s calling “real-money games,” or gaming apps involving real-world currency.
In an update posted to the Android Developers Blog, Google has announced that it will expand support for certain types of gambling apps beginning in June 2024. Previously, the company had a pilot program in India and Mexico that allowed certain types of real-money games and apps, with daily fantasy sports gambling apps being allowed in both countries and rummy apps in India.
Google will soon extend this program to game types and operators that are not under an existing licensing framework. To begin, this change will exclusively apply to users in India, Mexico, and now Brazil. Google notes that it plans to expand support to other countries in the near future. Existing policies that are in place to bolster user safety will remain in effect, according to the company. This means that age-gating will still be required to ensure that only adults can access the gambling apps, as well as geo-gating (restricting apps to certain regions).
While the online gambling industry might seem like the Wild West, there is plenty of fine print included in Google’s policy changes. When the company made similar updates back in 2021, the changes made way for more gambling apps in the US. However, there were stipulations that both gamers and developers needed to abide by, depending on the region. For instance, online casino apps were permitted exclusively in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada (limited to poker), and Delaware. Sports betting was limited to states including West Virginia, Tennessee, and Rhode Island. Additionally, all independent app publishers had to have proper licenses and adhere to laws in their region. The UK, Ireland, and France were the first countries that scaled back gambling app limitations back in 2017, but its rollout had been delayed in the US.
That being said, it seems that Google still believes it’s worth all the fine print, given the continued expansion of such support. How this will impact the developer space has yet to be seen, but it’s not difficult to imagine an increase in competition. Gamers will undoubtedly benefit from the rise in the number of app options in the Play Store. However, many would argue that the real-life risk of gambling — even in the mobile space — should not be taken lightly.