Exclusive: Google announces big change in Playstore policy, rummy & fantasy sports apps allowed

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Google has announced a big change in its policy of not allowing real money gaming apps in India on the Playstore, with the US-based tech giant now announcing that India-based real money game apps of daily fantasy sports and rummy will be allowed on the Playstore on a pilot basis from 28th September, 2022 to 28th September, 2023.

According to the policy change effective 7th September, 2022 announced by Google on its website, the change has been made on a pilot basis ‘in order to explore possible updates to the Other Real-Money Games, Contests, and Tournament Apps policy…’

Google has invited developers who want to publish their rummy and/or daily fantasy sports apps to be published on the Playstore platform to submit their application form with certain details about the company and the app. 

Google in its terms and conditions has also clarified that the real money rummy and fantasy sports app will be rated 18+ only and will be available as a free to download app and will not be eligible to use Google in-app billing. Google in its terms and conditions has also made the app developer responsible to collect PAN card and bank account details of the user downloading the app.

Upon submission of the application form, Google will inform the developer of its decision of whether it is allowing the real money gaming app on its platform within seven business days. 

Besides the changes in its policy on real money games in India, Google has also allowed real money online crane games in Japan effective 28th September, 2022 on a pilot basis for one year.  

In January, 2021, Google had made certain changes in its policy on real money games and allowed licensed gambling and sports betting apps from certain states in USA and some European countries, but Indian real money skill-based apps were not included in the revised policy back then.

Google has been in the eye of storm in India over its arbitrary and anti-competitive policies for listing apps on the Playstore with anti-trust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) reportedly looking to pass a decision on the tech giant’s billing policy and commission structure for Playstore soon. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance is also looking at alleged anti-competitive practices by social media and tech companies and had recently summoned executives of Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies.

In September 2020, Google had briefly removed fintech giant Paytm’ mobile application from the Playstore platform over its alleged violation of anti-gambling policies but restored the app in a few hours.

Earlier this year, real money gaming platform Winzo had filed a lawsuit against Google in the Delhi High Court for its arbitrary and discriminatory policy of showing a warning on Android devices when users download its app. Google in its response to the suit had claimed that the policy is not discriminatory but is rather in compliance with Information Technology Rules on security measures and similar warning is shown on various other apps.

The tech giant also referred to its policy of not allowing speculative or real money gaming apps on its platform and noted that speculative real money games such as the ones offered by Winzo are illegal in several states in India. The lawsuit is scheduled for hearing on 23rd September, 2022. Google’s stand on Winzo’s lawsuit in light of its changed policy is not yet known.

Google’s changed policy on real money fantasy sports and rummy apps will be a huge boost for the online gaming industry in India and could lead to further policy changes of other skill-based apps also being allowed on the Playstore platform in the near future.

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