Indian firm Winzo sues Google to stop new gaming policy, calls it discriminatory


FILE PHOTO: The Google LLC logo is seen at the Chelsea Google Store in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021.REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo/File Photo

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NEW DELHI, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Indian online gaming platform Winzo has sued Google (GOOGL.O) to stop the tech giant from allowing real-money games for fantasy sports and rummy on its platform, Calling Google discriminatory in doing so, a legal document seen by Reuters shows.

Winzo offers premium games in these categories, but also offers many other categories, such as carroms, puzzels, and racing, and thus won’t fully benefit from the newly adopted Google policy.

For years, Alphabet Inc’s Google has not allowed games involving real money to be played in India, but said this month that fantasy sports and rummy games could be added to its Play Store in India as part of a year-long pilot program market.

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In a policy update, Google said the two categories include games in which contestants use their knowledge of sporting events and athletes to develop strategies or memorize poker card drops. It makes no mention of other game formats and how they are handled.

In a lawsuit filed in the Delhi High Court, Winzo said it had contacted Google on September 10 to dispute the updated policy, saying it was “unfair” but received no response, forcing it to seek court relief.

Winzo’s lawsuit alleges that Google’s decision was “tantamount to unfair trade practices.”

A source with direct knowledge of the matter said the lawsuit was filed on Monday and will be heard in the coming weeks.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legal challenge comes as an Indian government panel seeks to create a regulator that would classify online games based on skill or opportunity, introduce rules to block banned formats and take a stricter stance against gambling sites.read more

Foreign investors such as Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital have invested in gaming startups Dream11 and Mobile Premier League (MPL), both popular for playing fantasy cricket.

Winzo has around 85 million users in India, it said, adding that, on average, they each spend an hour a day on its platform. The lawsuit shows that Winzo will have annual revenue of about $13 million in 2020-21.

(This story has been re-filed to remove extraneous words from the title)

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi

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