Google has apparently changed their long-standing position against offering real money gambling and betting apps in the Google Play store. This could prove to be a very important opportunity for the mobile gaming sector and for Android’s overall market share in some regions where Apple’s iPhone has been dominating, especially the gambling hungry United Kingdom. In January it was reported that Apple had gained another 9.1% of the UK market, and most of that was at the expense of Windows phones.
On Tuesday July 11, the UK mobile app developer Degree 53 announced that they would be offering services to operators to help get their iOS and new gambling apps in line with Google standards and to make sure gamblers will be able to take advantage of the latest Android features and services, some of which are not possible on the iOS.
According to the company that develops apps for companies like BetFred, Google stated in an email: “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.”
Degree53’s managing director, Andrew Daniels said in a blog post that, “Upon submission, developers will be required to provide documentation for the apps, including licences 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.
“This is a huge opportunity for gaming operators to grow their Android app portfolio and user base,” he added, “It’s worth keeping in mind that Android apps need to follow their own specific design and development guidelines, as well as being slightly different to iOS.”
Previously, operators were forced to go through third party channels to get their real-money gambling products out to Android users. One of the reasons Google had prohibited real money sports betting, casino, and slot apps from listing in the Play store was a concern over age verification. It is unclear how this will be addressed under the new policy. The Play store terms and conditions under “Restricted Content” still state: “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.” Under current policy, Google will allow ads under certain conditions related to local laws, underage users, and responsible gambling.
Degree 53’s Daniels is the former head of development for mobile gaming at BetFred and was a founding member of a mobile gaming start-up offering lottery and SMS games, Million-2-1 which was acquired by IGT in 2008. Since that time he has focused on developing HTML5 casino games.