Google Play Store Removes 56 Gambling Apps

Company acts after pressure from Vietnam government

Google has announced the removal of 56 gambling applications from its Google Play Store on grounds that the games were not compliant with Viet Nam laws, according to the Vietnam government’s Deputy Director of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, Le Quang Tu Do.

Google’s removal of the apps following a request from the Viet Nam government was an important step in the co-operation between the technology giant and the Ministry of Information and Communications in preventing the dissemination online of “malicious” information on social networks, the government said..

All 56 games were in Vietnamese, targeting Vietnamese users. 16 games were reported to violate Google Play rules, including illegally exploiting users’ data. These games were removed from Google Play on a global scale.

The other 40 games were removed in Viet Nam following pressure from the Vietnamese Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.

The apps included Vua bai, Danh bai online, Tien len mien Nam, Mau binh Xap xam, Game bai la online, Phom online, Game bai cao and Game ba la.

The Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information previously sent a document to Google and Apple asking for co-operation in limiting Vietnamese users downloading such games on their app stores.

Helena Lersch, Google’s head for Public Policy and Government Relations for the Asia – Pacific, was quoted in a note on the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information’s website as saying that Google did not allow any content or services related to online gambling. However, to remove inappropriate content, the apps must be flagged and reported to Google.

Lersch said that Google had a group working 24/7 on flagged inappropriate content.

In related news The Telegraph reports that a study funded by Google has found that smartphone apps have the potential to turn users into problem gamblers.

Research from two Google employees found that the “trigger, action, reward” design of popular apps has conditioned mobile phone owners to the extent that they feel “phantom” cues in which they imagine they have received a message even if the phone has not issued an alert.

Some participants in the study found they repeatedly refreshed an app hoping for new content to appear or posted on social media purely to “manufacture new triggers” in the form of responses, likes or shares from their peers.

The technology giant, which owns Android, conducted the research using a sample of 19 participants aged 18-65 in Zurich, Switzerland and California, US, to work out why people were becoming so dependent on their phones and how to counteract it.

All said that they found their smartphone “critical” making it difficult to disconnect, with one participant describing their phone as a “pocket slot machine”. The research suggested that features found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter were likely to hook people.