Google Lays Out Stringent Checklist For Hosted Gambling Apps

Google Play

Earlier this year, Google announced it would allow real money gambling apps on its Play Store in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. This news was groundbreaking in that only free-play gambling apps were ever allowed to be hosted, driving mobile gamblers to web-based applications developed alongside online casino platforms. With gambling in Google’s Developer Policy, and with a Gambling Application Form in existence, it is fair to say that smartphone gambling through Google is official.

If a developer wants in on the Google Play market, they will have to through a dense screening process. On their Developer Policy Center page, Google outlines the conditions that must be met for an app to successfully operate on Google Play. As mentioned above, these apps are only permitted in the UK, Ireland and France. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Developers are required to complete an application before allowed to distribute their app on Google’s marketplace
  • The app must comply with any laws or industry standards within the country it is distributed in
  • Underage users must be prevented from gambling within the app
  • App must prevent use from countries not covered by the developer-provided gambling license
  • Google payments services cannot be used; including Google Play In-App Billing
  • App must be free to download and install
  • Must be rated AO (Adult Only) or IRAC equivalent
  • Information on responsible gambling must be clearly displayed in app

Google also laid out some ground rules for gambling ads ran within these Play Store distributed apps. These rules are:

  • App and ad must comply with all applicable laws and industry standards for any location where the ad is displayed
  • Ad must meet local licensing requirements for all gambling-related products and services being promoted
  • App must not display a gambling ad to minors
  • App must not be enrolled in Designed for Families program
  • App must not target individuals under 18
  • Ad must clearly display information about responsible gambling on the landing page, the advertised app itself or within the app
  • App that is advertising a gambling ad must not be a simulated app (an entertainment game without real money gambling)

As a developer, if you feel you meet these requirements, the next step is to fill out an application. The application requires basic contact information for the app representative, along with gambling licensing details. These details include the licensee, address of licensee, license number, territory in which the license is held, regulatory authority, date of license, expiration date of license and the application package name(s). Gambling certification takes several days to process and applications will be pulled in the event of attempts to bypass the system or repeated violations. Potential licensees must then agree to the Google Play Gambling Terms and Conditions Agreement. This policy lays out the law regarding any incidents involving license revoking, changes to gambling laws, etc.

Google is certainly not cutting any corners when it comes to their license agreements. Gambling, albeit a profitable industry, is one of the most complicated regarding worldwide laws. Each country has their own policy in place. For the UK, Ireland and France, this opportunity allows them to show the rest of the world what a mitigated smartphone gambling framework functions like. If Google’s real money gambling app initiative is successful, it is likely that more countries will be allowed to apply for licenses (pending their gambling laws). It is also possible that Apple and other smartphone brands could offer real money gambling apps in their app stores.