Starting 1st March of 2021, Google made a critical move for the world of online gambling. They allowed gambling apps in the Play Store in 15 more countries other than the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and Brazil, where they were already (partly or wholly) legal.
It’s a massive move for many operators and users out of the above countries, who, until then, were forced to distribute or download such apps directly from websites or to use 3-rd party platforms. It led to many inconveniences: users found it harder to find relevant mobile apps and revealed themselves to potential fraud attempts or viruses. Operators, on the other hand, struggled with promoting and maintaining sideloaded apps.
These issues are now gone in 19 countries in total. What are these countries, and what are the new rules that Google applied to gambling apps?
15 new countries where gambling apps are allowed by Google
New Google rules will allow gambling apps on Play Store in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.
Does that mean that you can freely release your online casino in any of those places? Not necessarily. First and foremost, these rules don’t apply equally to all the countries and are massively dependent on national or state laws.
For instance, Google divides gambling apps into four separate categories: Online Casinos, Sports Bettings, Lotteries, and Daily Fantasy Sports. In the least regulated countries like the UK, Denmark, or Mexico, all of these types can be legally published by private and government operators.
In all other countries, you’re limited to just 2 or 3 gambling app genres and some of them are allowed for governmental or charitable operators only. There are a few industry-related exceptions, too: In Brasil, Sports betting is permitted only for Horse racing, while in Japan, it’s limited to horse racing, motorboat racing, bicycle racing, auto-bicycle racing, and soccer.
Among all countries newly-welcomed to the gambling environment, the US seems to be most regulated, and restrictions vary state-by-state.
Regular apps and gambling apps on Play Store
Google allowing more countries to publish gambling apps on their store legally doesn’t mean that they’re equal to regular apps in terms of the requirements for submitting, publishing, and promoting them.
The main difference is that publishers need to complete a Google Play application process, where they would ask you to authorize your operator status and your gambling license. You need to confirm that the app complies with all applicable laws for each country it’s distributed and doesn’t exceed the scope of the operator’s gambling license.
What that also means is that even if the app is approved, it will not be available to users in any other country than in the original one. They will have a couple of other unique requirements too. Gambling apps on the Play Store must:
- prevent under-agers from using it
- be free to download and install (it can’t be purchasable as a paid app on the store)
- be confirmed AO (Adult Only) or IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) equivalent
- NOT use Google Play In-app Billing
The advertisement for gambling-related apps is regulated too. It’s allowed only if the ads' content complies with particular policies of certain types of game (complete list here) and if the ad airs in approved countries, doesn’t target minors, and informs about responsible gaming.
Release an Android gambling app in a country blocked by Google
New Google rules are a massive step towards liberalizing online gambling, and there’s no doubt about it. However, it doesn’t cover all of the market’s needs: plenty of Android publishers and players from countries not covered by those policies will have to be looking for alternative ways.
If you live in a country where Android gambling apps are not allowed by Play Store and if you want to release one – feel free to reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to share the ins and outs of how you can do it with the help of social gaming apps and how unregulated markets can come to the rescue.