The apps will initially be available only for users in the UK, France and Ireland from the beginning of August, but may be rolled out into other jurisdictions where online gambling is legal “at a later date,” according to Google.
While it has always been possible to gamble on Android devices, users would not find them in the Android marketplace. Instead, they would have to visit an online gambling site directly and download the app at the source, or find it through a third-party app. This restricted the operator’s route to market and ability to use the Play Store as a direct acquisition tool.
Android owns around 50 percent of the smart phone market, which means the new rules will open up a vast customer acquisition channel for online gambling operators.
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Ban Avoided Regulatory Headache
Gambling ads and branded free-to-play apps were previously permitted on Google Play, as long as developers were compliant with local laws and Google’s own regulations, which included not targeting underage users and including responsible gambling messages on their ads.
At the time of writing, the Play Store’s terms and conditions 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.”
Change of Heart
But the tech giant appears to have overcome these qualms. This week it emailed gambling firms and app developers advising them of the new rules.
There was a suggestion as early as September 2015 that Google’s attitude was changing when, on the eve of that year’s NFL season, it quietly allowed daily fantasy sports site DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s real-money apps into the Play Store.