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Google opens Play Store to gambling apps in 15 countries

| By Robin Harrison
Search and technology giant Google has announced major changes to the Developer Programme Policy, that will see players in 15 countries, including the US, permitted to download gambling apps from the Play Store.

Currently gambling apps are only permitted in the UK, French and Irish Play Stores, while Brazilian players can download apps for horse racing and lotteries operated by the country’s central bank Caixa Econômica Federal. 

This changes from 1 March. From that date, gambling apps will be available in the Australian, Belgian, Canadian, Colombian, Danish, Finnish, German, Japanese, Mexican, New Zealand, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish and US Play Stores.

The specific restrictions differ in each market. For example, in Finland only monopoly operator Veikkaus’ apps will be permitted.

In Germany only sports betting and state lottery apps are to be allowed, despite the online slots and poker being permitted under a transitional regime, and a licensing system for the casino vertical coming into force from July. 

Norway, where Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto are the only legal gambling providers, does not appear to have any restriction on which operators can host apps in the country’s Play Store, however. 

The US Play Store conforms to state regulations, so sports betting apps will only be offered in states with legal mobile wagering, and casino restricted to Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Poker-only apps will be permitted in Nevada.

Daily fantasy sports, in states where the vertical is regulated as a form of gambling, will also be subject to these restrictions.

Each app will have to go through a robust selection process. Developers will have to complete an application, and each app must comply with all laws and industry standards in each country. 

The developer must also hold a valid gambling licence for each country or state in which it is distributed. 

There must also be safeguards to prevent minors from using the app, and it must be rated as AO (Adult Only). The products must also be free to download, and not use Google Play’s in-app billing functionality. 

Finally, the app and its listing in Play Store must also display information about responsible gambling.

The Play Store is the official app store for Google’s Android mobile operating system and is included in all Android software.