Google is dropping its longstanding ban on sports betting and casino apps in its Play Store. The policy review applies to 15 countries, including the US and Canada, and will be effective from March 1st, 2021.
Google didn’t make a public announcement about its policy change. It was only on January 28th that Reuters first reported the changes. According to the media outlet, the policy was updated on January 20th.
Shares in several top sports betting groups climbed after news broke about the changes. Penn National Gaming was up 4%, TheScore rose 7%, and DraftKings up 6%, on the information. That’s unsurprising considering the increased number of people who now have access to these mobile betting apps.
What is Google’s Policy About Gambling Apps
Until recently, the Play Store allowed gambling apps in a handful of countries, including France, Ireland, and the UK.
Under the policy change, Google will allow real-money gambling apps in 15 additional countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Mexico.
The new policy is relatively straightforward, as according to Google, it allows:
“Apps that enable or facilitate online gambling… as long as the Developer completes the application process for gambling apps being distributed on Play, is an approved governmental operator and/or is registered as a licensed operator with the appropriate governmental gambling authority in the specified country, and provides a valid operating license in the specified country for the type of online gambling product they want to offer.”
The policy covers most of the popular types of online gambling products, including DFS, online lotteries, online casinos, and online sports betting. However, as the above quote states, there are also restrictions on these forms of online gambling. The policy considers the legality in specific jurisdictions, which means offshore sportsbooks and online poker sites will not be available in the app store.
Strict Limitations in the US
With Google spelling out the limitations as they apply to each country, here’s what you can expect to see in the app store.
- Online casino games – in Delaware, West Virginia, Michigan, Nevada (only poker), New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
- Sports betting – in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In Montana, Oregon, and the District of Columbia – governmental operators only.
- Lotteries – state-run operators or affiliated contracted operators only in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
- Daily Fantasy Sports – Depending on the state, DFS may be regulated as gambling in the US. All DFS apps published in the US are subject to Google’s specific DFS apps.
Easier Access to Sports Betting Apps for US Players
Up until now, Android users needed to download sports betting apps via third party methods or from the sportsbooks website. With this policy change, they can now access the apps via the Google Play Store.
iOS users can continue to download mobile sportsbooks from the Apple App Store.
The development is welcome news and demonstrates that Google plans to use a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer to deal with gambling, making it widely available and protecting at-risk people from its harms. An example of the latter is the Google policy published late last year, allowing YouTube users in the US to opt-out of ads for gambling and alcohol.
Full List of Countries Affected by Google’s Policy Change
In addition to the US, the following 14 countries are part of the policy update:
- New Zealand