Online gaming and gambling market is opening up in Belgium
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Online gaming and gambling market is opening up in Belgium

Wednesday, 17 February 2021
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
© Pxfuel

Real money gaming and gambling apps have never been more popular. The recent restrictions and closures at land-based casinos have only served to increase the rush towards their online versions, and in this smartphone-focused era, that has predominantly meant one thing: iOS and Android apps being downloaded in the millions.

Usually, when we want to find a new app for our device, we simply head to Google Play, or its iOS equivalent, the Apple app store. However, the presence of gambling apps on these platforms has always been highly limited, both in terms of the choice available and the countries from which they are searchable. All that, however, has recently changed.

Better access from Belgium and elsewhere

Until a few weeks ago, the Play Store only provided access to casino apps for customers in the UK, France and the Republic of Ireland. Those in Belgium, or anywhere else, who wanted to install an online casino app had to navigate directly to the provider’s site from their mobile browser and install it from there. Clearly, this practice is not a problem with reputable providers, but it increases the risk of the unwary being duped into installing software that is not all it seems if it comes from an untrustworthy source.

Last month, Google announced a new policy decision that reflects a dramatic relaxation of these restrictions. From 01 March 2021, customers in Belgium have been granted access to apps relating to online casino games, lotteries and sports betting.  Similar changes have been implemented for other jurisdictions across Europe, Asia and North and South America.

Changing attitudes

Google’s decision can be seen as indicative of a general relaxation of attitudes towards gambling that is manifest across the globe. However, the fact that the US is one of those countries on the list perhaps tells us more about the real driving force here.

Ever since the US Supreme Court agreed to strike down the federal prohibition on sports betting, an increasing number of states have introduced more lenient legislation relating to all sorts of gambling. Google has a reputation for being a business that is both progressive and in-tune with the moods and attitudes of the times. Clearly, it feels that now is the right time to effectively flick the switch and join the pro-gambling ranks.

What are the implications?

The inclusion of these sorts of apps on Google Play can only be a good thing for casino enthusiasts. It brings the benefits for which Google is famous in terms of choice, information and safety. Installing apps from the app store reduces the risk of malware, and provides a way to look at different casino apps side by side. It also gives easy access to customer reviews.

Expect a flurry of activity from the major providers, who will all be in a hurry to get their casino gaming apps listed. Gamers can also look forward to plenty of special promotions as the different casinos seek to leverage the opportunity as a way to boost player numbers and market share.