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Stateside: Will real money betting apps ever exist at scale in the US?

Stateside: Will real money betting apps ever exist at scale in the US?
San Francisco-based Jeff Scott is the founder of 148Apps.com, which was recently acquired by PocketGamer.biz publisher Steel Media.

Real money betting apps have been hitting the news more and more of late. Zynga has announced a huge push in that direction.

In addition, earlier this week Big Fish Games launched its Casino UK game that integrates real money betting.

Apple silently allows these games to exist in the App Store in the UK without taking a cut of the gambling proceeds. But there are some rather large obstacles to these apps ever being allowed in the US.

Betting on the law

For one, laws in the US are a difficult maze to navigate with national, state, and local laws to comply with.

Each tier of legislations might have their own licensing requirements, fees, or make gambling apps illegal outright. And if they are legal, maintaining compliance with all of the local, state, and federal regulations that could potentially constantly be changing will be a logistical nightmare.

Betable offers a real money betting service, the same one used by Big Fish, that handles all of the regulatory requirements and does all of the money handling.

As we understand it from Betable CEO, Chris Griffin, for a gambling app to exist in a territory these regulatory hurdles can be insurmountable in all but the most populated areas.

In the UK the rules are much less varied, with fewer Government agencies involved, but in the US there could be hundreds.

A matter of geography

The other issue will be getting the app into the app stores.

Both Apple and Google have a single app store for the US. How does an App Store make an app that is illegal in one part of the US available to only people in other parts of the US?

Without a good method of restricting this app delivery, one that would satisfy all regulatory agencies involved, Apple and Google are not unlikely to allow gambling apps in the US.

So it seems it's an uphill battle to get real money betting apps to exist on any scale in the US. This will likely be the case for many years.

Wait and see

The laws are too varied and the current number of potential players too small to do anything at scale at this time. And if it doesn't make monetary sense, there's not much draw for developers.

Chris Griffin from Betable reckons that it will be 5 years before we see the simplest forms of real money betting apps viable and made available in the US.

Up to 10 years for the broader player vs. player type games. That's why they are focusing on the UK right now. For the US right now, it's wait and see.
Senior Editor

Jeff Scott is the founder of 148Apps and an app obsessed writer who loves talking apps, games, and the business around them. He knows what real football is, but still insists on calling it soccer.

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