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Gaming Report: Google Play Store Starts Accepting Betting Apps, PokerStars Launches Online Poker in Michigan & More

Gaming Report Feb 2
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly February 2, 2021
  • 5 Minutes Read

Technology giant Google recently updated its Play Store policy, allowing Android users to download and install real-money gambling applications in 15 countries. Unfortunately, India does not figure in that list.

While India is struggling for real-money gaming to gain acceptance, the state of affairs in the US on this front looks much more promising. The state of Michigan witnessed online poker giant PokerStars officially launch its online poker operations on January 29.

Moreover, even North Dakota may be on the verge of legalizing online poker, with Rep. Jim Kasper pushing to get it approved.

In other news, Russia-based Casino Sochi is looking forward to hosting two months of exhilarating MTT action. WPT Russia is all set to run from February 19 to 28, followed by the EPT Sochi from March 19 to 28.

 

Google’s Play Store Allows Gambling & Betting Apps in 15 Countries Barring India

Google recently updated its Play Store Policy for Android users allowing them to download and install real-money gambling applications from March 1. However, this policy update is only applicable to 15 countries – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the US.

Google Play Store

 

Google Play Store had a clear policy of prohibiting real-money gambling applications from being on their platform, but as late as in 2017, they allowed the Android Store to have real-money apps in U.K., Ireland, France, and Brazil. This latest policy update will allow authorized and legal gambling apps like online casino games, lotteries, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports, depending upon whether these gambling apps are allowed in the approved countries.

Google said that the new rules apply as long as the developer completes the application process for gambling apps being distributed on Play Store, is an approved governmental operator, and/or is registered as a licensed operator with the appropriate governmental gambling authority in the specified country.

“For all other apps which do not meet the eligibility requirements for gambling apps noted above, we don’t allow content or services that enable or facilitate users’ ability to wager, stake, or participate using real money (including in-app items purchased with money) to obtain a prize of real-world monetary value.”

Google India also updated its policy around gamified loyalty programs and features in the country that are based on a qualified monetary transaction in the app and offer prizes of cash or other real-world value.

“While we do not allow Real Money Gambling apps on the Play Store in India, we remain committed to engaging with industry and government bodies as they deliberate on measures that will best support this industry,” the company noted.

Suzanne Fray, vice president (product) for Android Security and Privacy, said that after several discussions with start-up leaders in India and the rest of the world and the feedback they received, Google had come up with this idea.

“App developers in India are actively building uniquely Indian features and services. One example is the use of mini-games, quizzes, and other gamification techniques to convert users into loyal customers,” Frey stated.

 

PokerStars Officially Launches Online Operations in Michigan

A week after mobile sports betting and iGaming launched in Michigan, the state became the latest to offer online poker to its residents, with PokerStars officially launching its operations.

 

The Flutter Entertainment brand launched on January 29 with all three products: online casino, poker, and sports betting. They did so alongside FOX Bet and Stars Casino, offering sports betting and casino games, respectively. The real-money brands are partnered with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Gaming Authority.

“We welcome the addition of Odawa Casino, Poker Stars, Fox Bet, and Barstool Casino to Michigan’s growing online gaming and sports wagering market,” said MGCB Executive Director Richard S. Kalm in a news release. “Their participation will generate revenue to support education, tribal communities, and the city of Detroit.”

“Behind FOX Bet Sportsbook, PokerStars, and Stars Casino, customers create one account for all three apps, unlocking a wide variety of exciting and entertaining options to supercharge the experience for our Michigan audience,” said Kip Levin, FOX Bet CEO.

PokerStars will offer players the same game options found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, meaning a full slate of daily tournaments and the famed Championship of Online Poker (COOP) series – which will be called Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP). When that takes place is to be determined. The site will be ring-fenced, meaning that players will only be allowed to play against others residing within the state.

 

North Dakota Rep. Jim Kasper Fights to Legalize Online Poker

Just as Michigan became the fifth US state to regulate online poker, North Dakota seems to be fighting tooth and nail to join the list. Rep. Jim Kasper has recently put forward a resolution that would put a measure on the 2022 general election ballot to allow residents to say whether or not online poker should be allowed in the Peace Garden State.

Jim Kasper
Jim Kasper

 

In 2005, North Dakota made headlines in the global online poker industry after Republican representative Jim Kasper authored a bill seeking to legalize online poker in the state. Now, 15 years since his first attempt to push for online poker in North Dakota, Kasper is taking another shot, but this time he wants to make sure he gets enough support from local residents.

On January 14, Kasper introduced the House Concurrent Resolution 3012, which would put a measure to allow the internet game on the 2022 general election ballot. Kasper cannot say just yet whether he has enough supporters in the legislature, which, over the years, has remained tough on gambling expansion. Still, the District 46 representative said his proposal has bipartisan support.

If the House Concurrent Resolution 3012 ultimately makes it on the ballot, North Dakota residents will decide in the upcoming general election whether the state should get the ball rolling on online poker legalization. A simple majority outcome will then kick-start the process.

“The country is just going more and more into gaming online,” Kasper said on January 21. “Let’s not leave North Dakota as one of the few states that doesn’t allow it.”

Kasper thinks it’s about time that North Dakota begins embracing online gaming, given that a lot of US states are already doing it. Kasper has long been an advocate for poker, being a player himself. His interest and passion for poker date back to when he was a kid, as he would usually play the game with his uncle. He began to love the game even more during the Chris Moneymaker era.

 

Casino Sochi is Ready For Two Months of MTT Action Starting With WPT Russia

With COVID-19 vaccines being steadily rolled out worldwide, the live poker scene is gradually opening up in many countries. In that vein, Casino Sochi in Russia is gearing up to host two months of exciting MTT action, starting off with the World Poker Tour (WPT) Russia and European Poker Tour (EPT) Sochi.

Casino Sochi
Casino Sochi

 

partypoker will co-host the 14-event festival set to take place at Casino Sochi from February 19 to 28. Once the WPT’s bandwagon has departed, PokerStars will roll into town from March 19 to 28.

With COVID-19 still being a widespread concern, the WPT’s tournament guidelines insist on certain safety protocols that have to be followed throughout the series:

> Players must wear masks at the table

> All players will have their temperature checked upon entering the casino

> Chips and tables will be sanitized during each break

> There will be a dedicated cleaning team in place for the entire series

> Tables will be eight-handed

In addition to the WPT’s measures, Casino Sochi tests all staff members daily.

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