Indian ‘fantasy’ gaming platform sues Google to stop new gaming policy, calls it discriminatory

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Indian online gaming company WinZO has filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the internet giant’s decision to permit real-money fantasy sports and rummy games on its platform is discriminatory. A copy of the lawsuit was obtained by Reuters. 

The WinZO app includes real-money games in those categories as well as a number of others that Google continues to reject, such as carrom, riddles, and racing games. As a result, it will not be able to take advantage of the recently enacted Google policy.

For years, the Google division of Alphabet Inc. prohibited games involving real money in India, but this month it announced that as part of a year-long pilot test, games like fantasy sports and rummy may enter its Play Store marketplace in the nation. 

In a policy update, Google stated that these two groups included games in which competitors exploited their knowledge of sporting events and athletes, planned ahead, or memorised the order of playing cards. Other game forms and how they are handled were not mentioned.

WinZO claimed in its complaint brought before the Delhi High Court that it had contacted Google on September 10 to protest the revised policy because it was “unfair.” 

In its lawsuit, WinZO said that because it had received no response, it was forced to seek legal assistance and that Google’s decision “amounts to unfair trade practice.” 

“All games of skill enjoy constitutional protection,” it continued.

The complaint was filed on Monday, according to a person with firsthand knowledge, and it will be heard in the coming weeks. 

Regarding the case, Google refuses to comment. The business has previously stated that it was “taking a measured approach that will help us aggregate learnings” through its pilot programme. 

WinZO is valued at more than $350 million and is supported by Griffin Gaming Partners, a venture capital business based in the United States.

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An Indian government panel has requested the establishment of a regulatory body to categorise online games as being based on skill or chance, introduce rules to block prohibited formats, and take a stricter stance on gambling websites. This legal challenge comes at the same time as those requests. 

Foreign investors have supported the gaming businesses Dream11 and Mobile Premier League (MPL), which are both incredibly popular for playing fantasy cricket. These investors include Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital. 

WinZO claims to have 85 million users in India, and that each of them uses the platform for an hour a day on average. According to the lawsuit, WinZO made around $13 million in annual income in 2020–21.

(with inputs from agencies)

 



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