India’s WinZO sues Google to end new gaming policy, calls it discriminatory

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, saying Google is doing so is discriminatory, according to a legal filing seen by Reuters.

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WinZO’sapp offers real money games in these categories, but also in many others that Google still will not accept, such as carrom, puzzles and car racing, and therefore will not be eligible to benefit from the newly adopted Google policy.

For years, Alphabet Inc’s unit Google hasn’t allowed any games involving real money in India, but this month such games for fantasy sports and rummy may join its Play Marketplace. Store in the country under a one-year pilot program.

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Google said in a policy update that these two categories include games in which competitors use their knowledge of sporting events and athletes, strategize or memorize the fall of playing cards. He did not mention other game formats and their processing.

In its lawsuit filed in the Delhi High Court, WinZO said it contacted Google on September 10 to challenge the updated policy, claiming it was “unfair”.

WinZO had received no response, forcing it to seek redress in court, said the company’s filing, which described Google’s decision as one that “amounts to an unfair business practice.”

He added that “all games of skill enjoy constitutional protection.”

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

Google declined to comment on the lawsuit. The company has previously said that through its pilot program it is “taking a measured approach that will help us bring learnings together.”

WinZO, which is backed by US venture capital firm Griffin Gaming Partners, has a valuation of over $350 million.

His legal challenge comes as an Indian government panel called for the creation of a regulatory body to classify online games based on their skill or odds, to introduce rules to block banned formats and to enact a stricter position on gambling sites. read more

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

WinZO has around 85 million users in India, adds that on average they each spend an hour a day on its platform. The lawsuit shows that WinZO recorded annual revenue of approximately $13 million in 2020-21.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi; Edited by Bradley Perrett

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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