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Google's inconsistent app-store gambling regulations come under fire

Mobile game Luck be a Landlord has been banned in 13 countries, and its developer isn't happy
Google's inconsistent app-store gambling regulations come under fire

Google Play has banned TrampolineTales game Luck be a Landlord in thirteen countries, including key markets such as The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, having found the game to be in violation of its gambling policies. However, it's maker TrampolieTales developer Dan Dilorio disagrees citing inconsistency in Google's policies that have unfairly impacted his game.

Luck be a Landlord is “a roguelike deckbuilder about using a slot machine to earn rent money and defeat capitalism.” The title’s steam page specifies that it doesn’t feature any real-world currency gambling or microtransactions.

In a blog post, Dilorio states that he received an email from Google following the ban, stating that “apps that simulate gambling, or games of chance or skill that are conducive to gambling are prohibited in the above locales.”

However, Dilorio cites several games with similar mechanics, or even those that veer into real-money gaming, continue to be available in the markets where his own game has been banned.

“By that logic, you could argue any game with an element of chance or luck violates Google's Gambling policy,” writes Dilorio.

Gambling with Google

“Jetpack Joyride, a game with a literal slot-machine mechanic, is rated E10+ and isn't geo-blocked. Dicey Dungeons, a game with themes of luck and rolling dice, isn't geo-blocked. SpinCraft which raised $6,000,000 in venture capital, is somehow rated "E for Everyone" and isn't geo-blocked, despite literally having a battle pass and random-chance micro-transactions. Don't even get me started on how loot boxes are allowed (and encouraged) on these platforms!”

“It should go without saying that I don't think these other apps should be geo-blocked. I'm saying it's very easy to see that my game is getting unfair treatment.”

Dilorio also notes that while he brought the situation up with Google, they dismissed his reasoning and stands by its belief that Luck be a Landlord violates its user policies.

However, the title remains available on both iOS and Steam, suggesting a certain amount of disparity between the policies of the companies, at least in what they consider gambling mechanics. In Dilorio’s eyes, at least, games which directly feature more questionable mechanics are allowed to continue selling their products.

Last month, the UK government demanded that the games industry reevaluate loot boxes, but stopped short of a crackdown.