WinZO moves Delhi HC seeking declaration for its offerings as games of skill

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Social gaming platform WinZO has asked the Delhi High Court to pass orders directing Google to take into consideration adding a number of its games to the Google Play Store and for a declaration that the games it offers are skill-based ones and compliant with the Indian laws.

Representing WinZO, advocate Abhishek Malhotra contended that Neelesh S. Upadhye, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, had independently evaluated WinZO’s games from the standpoint of preponderance of skills.

“The games I have made available are games of skill. Google Play Store had the biggest market. They have a policy wherein only two specific games were made available online – Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Rummy, and other online games whether or not they were games of skill were not allowed,” said Malhotra as quoted by The Indian Express.

Google had previously not allowed any apps that provided the option to stake real world currency on the Play Store, but last year in September, the tech giant introduced a pilot program and started offering DFS and rummy.

According to the plea, DFS/Rummy have obtained legal recognition as skill games from the courts, which is the primary justification stated by the defendants for not permitting other games of skill.

Malhotra said that usually WinZo should be able to add his games on a platform that allows skill-based games, as his client has done several statistical analyses proving that these games need expertise.

Sajan Poovayya, the senior advocate representing Google, claimed that previous to September 2022, in line with his client’s policy, no games with money coming in or going out are permitted to be added to the platform since they cause players to lose money.

Following the new pilot program in September 2022, DFS and rummy were allowed for testing purposes, but the company never made any kind of promise that each and every game will be allowed, saying, “I’m a platform, no one can ask me to onboard games, whether skill or chance.”

“On April 6, the amended IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 made a self-regulatory mechanism, wherein anyone can go to the self-regulatory authority and get a certification under the IT Rules, that this game is not gambling. But even if certification is issued, Google is not obligated to onboard because it is a private platform,” Poovayya added.

He further argued that because the declaration requested is not mandated against Google, WinZO should follow the amended IT Rules, which put the ball in the intermediaries’ court to decide whether to onboard a game or not.

Taking note of Malhotra’s submission, Justice Narula noticed that the submission was filed on March 28 and the notification from MeitY was issued on April 6. The court ruled, “Counsel for the Plaintiff request for a short accommodation to take instructions. List on April 24.”