Google play gambling app restrictions

Why are betting apps banned from the Google play store?

Searching the Google app store for a betting app, you’d expect to find it pretty easily by searching for the brand name of the app – William Hill, Bwin, etc, etc, right? Wrong! Unfortunately Google currently has a hard stance on Gambling apps, in the sense that all gambling related content & services are forbidden in their Google Play developer programme policy. Bummer! This is presently the case for all territories, with the exception of the UK, Ireland and France, where restrictions have recently been relaxed (in late 2017) on the condition that a number of requirements have been met. Detail of the restrictions are accessible here.

Their official stance is currently as flagged below:

(Accurate as on 22/11/2017)

We allow content and services that facilitate online gambling, as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Gambling Apps (Currently permitted in the UK, Ireland, and France only)
    • Developer must successfully complete the application process in order to distribute the app on Play;
    • App must comply with all applicable laws and industry standards for any country in which it is distributed;
    • Developer must have a valid gambling license for each country in which the app is distributed;
    • App must prevent under-age users from gambling in the app;
    • App must prevent use from countries not covered by the developer-provided gambling license;
    • App must NOT use Google payments services, including Google Play In-app Billing;
    • App must be free to download and install from the Store;
    • App must be rated AO (Adult Only) or IARC equivalent; and
    • App and its app listing must clearly display information about responsible gambling.

For all other locations, we don’t allow content or services that facilitate online gambling, including, but not limited to, online casinos, sports betting and lotteries, and games of skill that offer prizes of cash or other value.

Long story short, the above policy makes Google’s hardline stance a stark contrast from the current Apple iOS development policy, where gambling apps are allowed, as long as they comply with the Apple development policy and are in-keeping with local/country based legislation.

Google play gambling app ban

Google play gambling app ban

So, to answer the question as to ‘Why betting apps are banned from the Google play store?’, it’s best to look at the current differences in the platforms.

  1. While the Apple app store has a strict review & approval policy, the Google Play store doesn’t have an app approval policy, and thereby allows developers to publish whatever they wish to the store. While they retain the ability to remove apps from the store for content violations, the stance of banning gambling apps is required to prevent untrusted sources from submitting dodgy betting apps. This is also substantiated by the fact that Google’s Android platform is based on open source (Linux) code, whereas Apple enforce proprietary code standards.
  2. Geolocation barriers can be enforced in the Apple app store to ensure that Gambling apps are only provisioned to those countries where legislation doesn’t prevent onling gambling access. Unfortunately, stemming from point 1 above, the same doesn’t apply to the Google play store (as there is no app approval process), meaning that legislative requirements cannot be enforced.

So, where does this leave both the betting operator & punters? Well, for operators, Google has somewhat less restrictive policies than Apple, meaning that operators can continue to develop native android apps using the Android platform, with the caveat being that they can’t be offered within the Google play store, unless of course the operator is based in the UK, Ireland or France and has met the aforementioned conditions. This means that betting operators need to find an alternative route to market. Luckily, most larger betting operators are now facilitating direct downloads of native android apps from their websites. Or, in many cases offering the apps for download via alternative app stores. (e.g. the Samsung app store). For punters, have no fear! You can still get your hands on most Android betting apps pretty easily via your preferred betting operator. The catch is that you’ll have to ensure that you amend the settings on your android device to allow apps to be downloaded from untrusted sources. Finally, you can then simply download the app directly from your favourite bookies website.

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