Android-using sports bettors were thrilled to hear that they would finally be able to download apps directly from the Google Play Store. However, bettors are going to have to be careful what they download because there is an imposter on the loose.
Two different apps in the store claiming to be the BetMGM Sportsbook app are actually downloads of the offshore sportsbook MyBookie’s app. MyBookie is one of several offshore sportsbooks that accept American bettors even though they are not legally permitted to do so.
UPDATE: As of March 12, the offending apps have been removed from the PlayStore, but continue to be on the lookout and wary of imposters when downloading apps.
MyBookie posing as “new” BetMGM app
A search for “BetMGM” in the Google Play Store yields the following results:
The top result is indeed an app for MGM, but it is an informational app about the MGM Resorts properties, not a sports betting app. The fourth result, “Live App Betmgm Mobile Online Sportsbook” looks like the closest match to the actual BetMGM app. It even has “New” on the icon to suggest it was just listed in the first wave of real-money gaming apps to hit Google.
Once you download the app, which claims to be from a provider called “Flashcom,” it is not the BetMGM app at all. It doesn’t even pretend to be the BetMGM app. Instead, it is the app for MyBookie. Here are some screenshots from the download:
Nothing in Play Store description mentions MyBookie
As you can see from the above app description from the store, there is no mention of anything but MGM, so the downloaded result comes as a bit of a surprise.
Another listing in the results is more clearly an imposter. The sixth listing, the tellingly named “Mobile Sport for Betmgm Notifier App,” may feature a blue checkmark on the icon to convey legitimacy, but not much about this listing inspires confidence:
There is a lion logo, but it is pretty clearly not MGM’s, at least to those familiar with the brand. Much like the other result, upon downloading, the app was, once again, MyBookie (with an unconvincing BetMGM icon in the corner):
Is this trademark infringement? A Google policy violation? Both?
MGM Resorts filed a trademark on BetMGM in 2019 along with several other phrases and images. The company has been litigious about its copyrights, too.
In December 2020, BetMGM’s legal counsel sent a cease and desist to competing Tennessee sportsbook, Action 24/7. The local betting app ran a series of ads proclaiming wrestler Jerry Lawler “The King of Sports Betting.”
MGM holds the trademark to the phrase “The King of Sports Betting,” though Tina Hodges, the CEO of Action 24/7 contended the letter was ludicrous given that Lawler has used his “The King” nickname for several decades.
A spokesperson at BetMGM told PlayMichigan on Wednesday that while they are actively working to get the sportsbook app live in the Play Store, “we had absolutely no involvement with the misleading listings.” They are working with Google to get them removed.
Impersonations and Google App store policies
At the very least, it appears the apps are in violation of Google App Store policy, which states:
“We don’t allow apps that mislead users by impersonating someone else (e.g. another developer, company, entity) or another app. Don’t imply that your app is related to or authorized by someone that it isn’t. Be careful not to use app icons, descriptions, titles, or in-app elements that could mislead users about your app’s relationship to someone else or another app.”
Additionally, as part of its rollout of real money gambling apps in the store, Google issued very specific policies about the legality of apps:
“App must comply with all applicable laws and industry standards for each country in which it is distributed; Developer must have a valid gambling license for each country or state/territory in which the app is distributed;”
There is also a page available to report copyright infringement to Google. We have reached out to representatives at Google for a response to these apps but did not have a response at the time of writing.
While it is unclear exactly why this is allowed in the Play Store, one thing Michigan Android users need to know for sure: Be very careful what you download, as it may not be what it claims to be. Always check the developer name before downloading anything. An authentic BetMGM app will list MGM as its developer.