Thanks to improvements in web design and mobile web browsers, online gamblers have been able to get their desired action on their devices from wherever they are. But that ability hasn't been supported by app stores, including the Google Play store, which has been staunchly against hosting online betting apps on its platform. Fortunately for bettors, though, that stance is beginning to change in a way that will allow bettors in certain locations to download Android gambling apps right from Google Play.
In the United Kingdom, France, and Ireland, gambling operators will be able to post their casino, sports betting and poker apps for download through Google Play, something that wasn't possible due to previous restrictions from Google. With Google Play being just about even with the Apple App Store in terms of apps downloaded and users, this lifting of restrictions from Google Play is a huge growth opportunity for gambling operators who were previously unable to reach those people.
The new Google Play policy will be similar to how Apple iTunes have treated real-money gambling apps for years. iPhone and iPad owners in countries where online gambling is legal, like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, have been able to download apps from Paddy Power, PartyPoker and Bet365 for many years. Online gambling operators had to find other ways to get their Android apps downloaded, either directly or via other means. While this wasn't impossible, it is much more difficult than having users find and download your app in an app library like Google Play. It's comparable to writing a book, and only selling it at a local bookstore, instead of selling it at a place like Barnes and Noble. Some people will still find it, but not as many as there could be.
This change in policy will take place starting in August, when Google will begin accepting applications from online gambling apps to be accepted into the Google Play store. Google added that this policy change is starting in the UK, France, and Ireland, but that it is entirely possible that Android gambling apps will be made available in additional territories as time goes on, which is great news for bettors holding out hope for their country to be selected. It should noted, however, that in the United States fantasy sports betting apps like FanDuel and DraftKings are available for download from Google Play. Due to their offshore status, it's unlikely that we'll see US sportsbooks like Bovada appear anytime soon.
While this is a nice start from Google Play, one can't help but think that this type of change in app store policy should be commonplace by now. In places where online betting is legal, there is no reason that players shouldn't be able to download gambling apps, as they don't violate any laws. The fact that it has taken Google Play this long to adopt these apps at all speaks to them being behind the curve with regards to the online gambling industry.
For countries that do not have laws on the books legalizing online gambling, this change in stance by Google won't do much to change their situations. Google isn't likely to open Google Play up to allowing apps to be downloaded that would promote a full-on illegal activity in those countries, which means that countries like the United States will still have to wait for their lawmakers to clear the path before they are able to download any online gambling apps through Google Play. That is, with the exception of daily fantasy sports apps, which are not considered gambling by United States law and has been granted clearance by Google.