Until a year ago, Google strictly prohibited the publication of gambling apps on the Play Store that involved real money. However, Google has now changed its stance and plans to allow the availability of real-money games on the Play Store. However, there’s a catch – only verified apps approved by a self-regulatory body (SRB) will be allowed.
It may be recalled, that apps like MPL and other similar apps are not allowed to make their way to the Play store due to Google’s strict policies. However, a year ago, Google began a pilot program where it let in such apps on the Play Store and said it would monitor the situation for a year. Now, with the deadline for the pilot program coming on September 28, Google has announced that it does intend to make these apps available on the store once and for all.
“We intend to enable distribution on Google Play for all SRBs verified online real money games that comply with our policies. We are closely tracking all developments in this regard to determine next steps and timelines,” a Google spokesperson said. Moreover, there’s a grace period for the apps that were already published during the pilot program and they won’t be taken down until January 15, 2024. However, no new apps will be accepted once the pilot program ends on September 26.
“As we await the planned implementation of the SRB framework for verification of permissible online real-money games in India, we are providing a grace period to existing pilot apps to remain on Google Play until January 15, 2024 (subject to continued compliance with the pilot programme terms),” the spokesperson added.
SRBs will be responsible for developing and publishing a framework for verifying an online real-money game. It will further ensure that such online real money games are not against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states and public order.
As for the impact of the move, this would bring down a significant portion of the advertising costs for these apps, which currently spend a lot of on adverts. With official availability on the Play Store, the apps would become more visible to the end user, and users would have more confidence in trying the app as it would be available on the official Play Store.
As of now, Google Play allows only valid licensed or authorised gambling apps in categories such as online casino games, sports betting, horse racing (where regulated and licensed separately from sports betting), lotteries, and daily fantasy sports.