Google is embarking on a major expansion of real-money gaming on its popular Play Store platform. The tech giant announced plans Thursday to support a wider array of games involving actual money in more countries this year.
It’s a lucrative move for Google, but not without risks. Real-money games have come under increased scrutiny from regulators worldwide who want to balance open commerce with addressing problem gambling and addiction.
Here are a few key takeaways from Google’s announcement regarding real-money games on the Play Store:
- Expanded support for real-money games: Google will allow more types of real-money games beyond just fantasy sports and rummy, as long as they comply with local laws and regulations. This will start as a pilot in India, Brazil, and Mexico in June.
- More countries to follow: After the initial pilot launch, Google plans to roll out support for more real-money game types to additional countries over time.
- New service fee model: Google will introduce a new service fee structure for real-money games to “reflect the value Google Play provides.” This seems to indicate fees may go up, but details are still forthcoming.
- Increased Play Store revenue expected: With more real-money games allowed, and a new fee structure, Google likely expects a meaningful boost to Play Store revenue. This comes as Google faces pressure to open up alternative in-app payment options.
- Guardrails remain in place: Despite the expanded scope, Google says it will still have guardrails like age verification, geo-restrictions, and compliance with regulations. This aims to balance openness with safety and responsible gaming.
In summary, it’s a notable shift that could signify substantial money-making potential for Google, while also expanding options for developers and players - though regulation and responsibility remain priorities as well. More details from Google are expected in the coming months.