In 2021, Google opened the doors for gambling and betting Android apps to be featured on the Play Store. A forthcoming update on Google Play will broaden its support for a variety of real-money gaming (RMG) apps, where users invest money with the prospect of winning more.
Previously, Google limited RMG apps to those covered by established government regulatory frameworks. The Play Store relied on the presence of such regulations to determine approval or rejection, excluding games that, while legal, lacked explicit rules governing their availability.
Google Play is set to permit RMG “game types and operators not covered by an existing licensing framework” that are nevertheless legal. This expansion will make RMG apps available in more countries, with developers required to adhere to local guidelines alongside Google’s policies.
The current RMG apps on the Play Store, encompassing Online Casino games, Sports Betting, Horse Racing, Lotteries, and Daily Fantasy Sports, adhere to existing safety policies such as age-gating and geo-gating. Availability in the U.S. follows a state-by-state basis, with the impending change ensuring compliance with regulations.
Developers, particularly those from abroad, expressed interest in creating diverse real-money games, like online versions of local card games, lacking established regulations. Before unveiling this policy shift, Google conducted local pilots to “determine how to support more RMG operators and game types,” as seen in a pilot program in India, featuring Rummy and Daily Fantasy Sports.
Following this policy update, RMG apps involved in the pilots, concluding in India and Mexico, can continue residing in the Play Store. Existing safety rules concerning age and location will persist, and Google pledges to “continue to strengthen them.”
Simultaneously, the company announced a forthcoming evolution of its service fee model for RMG to align with the value Google Play offers and sustain the Android and Play ecosystems. Previously, these RMG apps were required to be free for installation and couldn’t utilize Google Play Billing, exempting them from service fees. However, this is poised to change with the expansion, and more details will be disclosed in the upcoming months.
Google is collaborating with developers to ensure the new approach accommodates the unique economics and various earning models in the industry. Broader RMG support is scheduled to commence in June for India, Mexico, and Brazil, with plans for further expansion to users in additional countries in the future.