It’s no secret that gaming for money has been one of the industries that greatly benefited from going online. Casino owners have found ways to move their establishments to cyberspace or create new ones without really losing any of the core functionalities. Not long after that, the first businesses quickly appreciated the potential of increasingly powerful mobile devices, and the first betting and casino apps began to appear in popular app marketplaces. Fast forward to 2022 and in some areas of the world you can even see betting app ads during commercial breaks after the FIFA 2022 World Cup matches. Gaming for money has gone online, and for many once-local businesses – it has also become international.
However, setting up an online casino app requires more than just a skillful team of IT specialists to create the software. Much of the difficulty is also associated with legal regulations as well as the conditions for specific marketplaces. In this article, we will have a closer look at some of the aspects you should be aware of when planning to release your own casino app for iGaming.
What are the regulations for having an app for your casino?
We’ve covered some of the legal nuances related to iGaming in a separate article, so in this entry, we provide a general overview.
There is no single central authority regulating the games of chance industry worldwide, nor is there any single authority for Europe. The USA is even more diverse in this respect, as every State has its own regulations. These different regions – which can be countries, groups of countries or states – are often referred to as jurisdictions, and they have regulations for offline and online casinos as well as mobile apps for iGaming. Often iGaming apps and iGaming in general are regulated by the same set of laws and require the acquisition of a license or similar permission.
The permissions outline the conditions that have to be met in order to set up the business of your choice. They include the description of the fees involved, and whether the license prohibits your business from operating on specific markets. Acquiring a license like this is one of the first steps during the entire process – a step that requires an investigation into the region’s gaming laws.
Mobile casino games instead of a casino app
Some companies focus on developing mobile casino games instead of a mobile casino app. It may be harder to go through all the legal and technical aspects to create an entire complex mobile casino platform (a “hub” containing many different games), whereas iGaming/betting apps (for single/few games or services) are very popular on the world’s most common marketplaces.
However, it is worth remembering that many marketplaces won’t allow gaming with real money, but the apps usually feature alternative forms of monetization that are very popular in mobile gaming, such as app-specific currencies that can be purchased with real money. Some apps focus on crypto, similar to their website counterparts.
Responsive mobile casino site
Many online casinos do perfectly well without an app version. This is usually at least in part due to a well-designed and optimized mobile version. A user-centered approach to web design will make a casino website look and function as well as any good casino app.
We will not discuss the principles of UX design as they go beyond the scope of this article, but as for analyzing the performance and responsiveness after the mobile version of the site is released, some of the useful tools that can be used for this purpose include PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and Screaming Frog. Much of the information provided by this software will not only cover hints about the design and general performance optimization, but also Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is critical to ensure high positions in Google search results pages.
A technical audit performed with the tools mentioned above can provide a lot of data on the mobile (and/or desktop) version of a website, including:
- whether code needs to be optimized
- whether any resources are blocking the first content on your page
- whether any code is unused and can be removed
- whether images are in optimized formats (WebP or AVIF)
- whether the fonts are suitable for the mobile version
- whether images are resized properly to fit smaller screens
- how long is the total blocking time on your website
- whether there is any layout shifting
- whether cache time needs to be optimized
- and a lot more
Different app stores – different rules for casino apps and games
There are dozens of mobile iGaming apps available on popular online marketplaces, but all of them must comply with the respective store’s rules. It’s always a bit different for every sales platform. Below you will find an outline of the conditions for some of the most popular online app marketplaces. Bear in mind, the information collected here is from November 2022. Always check the up-to-date regulations on the vendor’s official website before making any business decisions.
Casino app regulations for Apple App Store
For the Apple App Store, paragraph 5.3 Gaming, and Lotteries specifies the general conditions for publishing an app falling into the category of the regulation’s title. The opening lines highlight the importance of following all the legal regulations everywhere you make the software available and warn about extended review/processing time in the App Store. The regulation points out the importance of having a valid license/permission for any given jurisdiction where the app is supposed to be used. The software must be geo-restricted to these locations and must be free on the App Store. No illegal gaming aids are allowed, and lottery apps “must have consideration, chance, and a prize”. One other important thing to note is that apps cannot feature in-app purchases of currency for use together with real money gaming. There also must be a statement that Apple is not the sponsor of any sweepstakes, raffles or contests (the developer must be the sponsor), and the rules for these must be clearly presented in the app.
Casino app regulations for the Google Play store
Contrary to iOS, the biggest app store on Android – Google Play – has a very detailed page on Real-Money, Games and Contests. We will provide only some of the highlights included in these regulations. First of all – real money gaming apps and similar software types are allowed on the Google Play store as long as they fulfill certain conditions. Every developer of a gaming app distributed through the store has to complete the application process by filling out a form for every market where the app is to be available. The review time of the form lasts at least one week. The app store supports such gaming apps as online casino games, sports betting, horse racing, lotteries and daily fantasy sports. Similarly to Apple Store’s policy, the apps published through Google Play must also comply with all the necessary regulations for each country where the software is supposed to be available. This also means that the developer must be in possession of a valid gaming license for the specific jurisdiction, and must only provide those services that are allowed by this document. Underage users as well as those that are not from the regions covered by the license must not be able to use the app. The app is to be free on the Google Play store and must not use Google Play In-app Billing. It has to have an adult-only rating and display information about responsible gaming.
These are the core regulations on the Play Store, but there are also other, more specific rules for particular types of iGaming apps, such as lotteries, contests, tournaments, or loyalty programs. Make sure to read all the information before making any decision.
Casino app regulations for the Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store is different from the previous two vendors in that it mainly targets the PC audience, specifically those using Windows 10 and 11, but there are other devices, such as tablets that can also run these two operating systems. Gaming is briefly mentioned in 10.8.2 of the Microsoft Store Policies section. In the case of apps that feature payments related to real-world gaming, Microsoft requires developers to include a secure third-party purchase API. We were unable to find any other piece of information that would regulate the release of a gaming-oriented application at the store, which is surprising when compared to the lists of conditions for the previous two app marketplaces. Bear in mind that other, more general regulations for apps have to be followed as well.
The mobile app market quickly recognized the potential of iGaming apps and took measures to regulate them accordingly to smoothen the publication process and avoid legal issues. With so many people enjoying this form of entertainment on the go or from the comfort of their homes, there is a lot of business potential in casino apps and mobile gaming.
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