In a significant policy shift, Google has announced its decision to allow a broader range of real-money gaming (RMG) apps on its Play Store in select regions. The move is aimed at accommodating game types and operators that do not fall under existing government licensing frameworks, making it possible for a wider variety of RMG apps to become available to users. This change will come into effect initially in India, Mexico, and Brazil on June 30, with the potential for further expansion into other regions in the future.
Expanding access to real-money gaming apps
Google had initially introduced a policy in 2021 that permitted RMG apps on the Play Store but only if they were related to game types regulated by local governments. This limited access has now been revised to encompass a more diverse range of game types and operators. The decision to make this change follows a series of pilot programs conducted by Google in various parts of the world since 2021.
The pilot programs sought to explore how to better support RMG operators and game types not currently covered by licensing frameworks. In India, for instance, the testing included apps offering Rummy card games and Daily Fantasy Sports. Starting from June 30, operators involved in these pilot programs will be able to release their RMG applications and other types of real-money gaming apps as long as they comply with local laws and regulations.
Strict compliance and geographic restrictions
Despite the broader access to RMG apps, Google remains committed to maintaining strict compliance and safety measures. The company will uphold its age requirements to access these games, ensuring that only users of the appropriate age can participate. Additionally, developers will still be required to implement geo-fencing for their products, meaning that these apps will only be accessible in regions where they are legally permitted.
Evolution of service fee model
Google has also revealed plans to “evolve its service fee model” for real-money gaming apps. While RMG apps currently cannot use Google Play billing, it appears that the company is considering changes to this policy, potentially allowing Google to take a portion of developers’ earnings from these apps. This shift could help sustain the Android and Play ecosystems while ensuring developers have a reliable platform for distributing their RMG applications.
This change may come as a positive development for developers and players alike, as it could encourage more innovation and diversity within the real-money gaming industry. However, it also raises questions about how Google intends to manage these new types of apps and ensure they adhere to local laws and regulations.
Future expansion and impact
While the policy change is initially limited to India, Mexico, and Brazil, Google has expressed its intentions to expand the availability of RMG apps in other regions in the future. This expansion could provide more opportunities for developers to reach a broader audience of players, potentially leading to increased competition and a wider variety of RMG gaming options.
Google’s decision to revise its Play Store policy to accommodate a wider range of real-money gaming apps represents a significant shift in its approach. With careful consideration of local laws and regulations, the company is opening doors for developers and players to explore new RMG game types and operators, potentially fostering growth and innovation within the industry. The impact of this change will become clearer as it is implemented in additional regions in the coming months and years.