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Rumours had abounded for several weeks, but finally Google has made several changes to its policy on gambling apps. The biggest takeaway from the policy change is that punters in the UK, Ireland and France can download gambling apps from the Google Play Store for the first time. For several years Google had held firm on its restrictions policy, despite the wide availability of gambling and casino apps offered by rivals like Apple. While the shift in policy has surprised a few observers, it is nonetheless understandable due to the widespread popularity of casino and gambling apps in the UK and Europe.

Google has issued relatively strict guidance on the apps. A selection of some of the more important rules is provided below:

  • App developers must complete an application process.
  • Apps must be 100% free to download from the Play Store.
  • Apps must demonstrate that they restrict underage players.
  • The apps must adhere to the laws of the issuing country.
  • Clear information about responsible gambling must be displayed in the app listing.

Clearly, the guidelines mentioned above are all positive measures designed to comply with national laws and protect minors. The good news is that it provides players downloading the apps with reassurances that those available in the Play Store are reputable and open to scrutiny. Google allows Play Store users to rate the apps and leave comments, allowing new customers to get a flavour of the pros and cons of each provider.

Of course, gambling apps have been widely available on many platforms, including Android, for years now. Most bookmakers and online casinos simply bypassed the Google Play store by offering downloads through their own sites. For example, visiting http://www.williamhill.com/download-apps would allow you to download any of William Hill’s betting, casino and games apps. The software would recognise your mobile operating system and offer the relevant download option. You can still download through the operators’ sites today, but now having William Hill as an option in the Play Store, as well as the Apple App Store, opens the product to a wider customer base.

It is not entirely clear as to why Google has had such a shift in its policy. A spokesperson stated that it was part of “our continued policy to offer new experiences on Google Play.” Gambling apps have been around for several years, and Google’s reluctance to provide a platform for apps had been well publicised and become something of a cause célèbre within industry circles. Google had often cited as difficulty with age restrictions as one of the main reasons for not allowing gambling apps in the Play Store. Changes in technology, as well as the gambling industry taking its own steps, have clearly altered the landscape.

Obviously, those behind the gambling apps will be celebrating the news, but it will also be welcomed by punters from the countries where the restrictions have been lifted. It will be interesting to see if this is a one off from Google, or a significant shift towards a broader policy on gambling. Only time will tell.

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