The Google Play Store’s history when it comes to the status of gambling apps is somewhat muddled. That the digital distribution service was still referred to as the Android Market when it prohibited “real gambling” apps in 2010, doesn’t help the matter.
That 2010 policy came at the same time as a then newly implemented apps rating system. In 2013, even firmer language was used when Google Play introduced new regulations that further restricted apps featuring cash and prizes for games of skill. As a result, prospective players were forced to go directly to operator websites or other third-party providers, creating a marketing challenge for those same operators looking to make the most of a growing mobile audience.
Fortunately, knotty as its past may be, the future for gambling apps on the Play Store looks like it may be clearing up – at least for some jurisdictions - as early as next month.
According to a blog post by Andrew Daniels, Managing Director of Degree 53, the Manchester-based digital marketing firm, Google has reached out to certain operators, notifying them via email that: “From the beginning of August 2017, Google will accept applications for the distribution of gambling apps within the Play store in the UK, France and the Republic of Ireland. At a later date, this policy change may be expanded to new regions and countries.”Degree 53, which provides an array of services to the iGaming industry, counts brands such as Betfred, Bookies.com, Totesport and Freebets.com among its clients. Daniels’ post continued:
“Upon submission, developers will be required to provide documentation for the apps, including licenses for the countries they’re looking to target. This process will likely be similar to Apple’s, taking slightly longer to approve to make sure everything is done correctly and legally.”Familiar TimingIt also makes strategic sense that if Google were going to start reaching out to operators, that it would do so now, with little less than eight weeks to go ahead of the NFL season opener on September 7th. It was just two years ago, when a similarly timed policy change, just ahead of the 2015 NFL season, opened the door for daily fantasy sites DraftKings and Fanduel to offer real-money apps through the Play Store.
With all the evidence pointing towards a softening of guidelines regarding gambling apps in the Play Store, it still looks like the broader public is going to have to wait a bit longer for confirmation from Google itself. At the time of this writing Google’s developer program policies regarding gambling content still reads as follows: “We don’t allow content or services that facilitate online gambling, including but not limited to, online casinos, sports betting, lotteries, or games of skill that offer prizes of cash or other value.”