Google criticized for only allowing fantasy sports and rummy apps on India’s Play Store

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As Google announced the launch of a pilot project to allow fantasy sports and rummy apps on the Play Store in India, industry experts said on Thursday that the tech giant’s approach was “clearly discriminatory” and that it should have an inclusive approach of adding other games of skill under the umbrella of its pilot project for local developers.

Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), said it was a progressive step that needed to be inclusive.

Starting September 28, Play Store will launch a limited-time pilot allowing the distribution of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Rummy apps to users in India by India-incorporated developers.

“Games of skill are a broad category and fantasy games and rummy are just two game formats considered in this Google pilot program. Poker is also considered a game of skill by several High Courts in India Similarly, there are many developers offering both classic and innovative skill games,” Landers said in a statement.

He said that Google Play Store holds nearly 95% of the app delivery platform market in India.

“This approach by Google will be particularly difficult for MSMEs and new developers/platforms who will not be able to compete with established companies because their varied skill game offerings will be kept out of the Play Store ecosystem,” said declared the CEO of the AIGF.

India has seen an esports surge, where players like Dream11 and Mobile Premier League (MPL) are now dominating the territory.

Suraj Chokhani, CEO of Ability Games (11wickets.com, rummy24.com, pokerlion.com) said that despite Google’s “hegemony and seemingly arbitrary policies against gaming apps”, the industry Indian online game has grown more and more, garnering more than 300 million downloads.

“Much more clarity is needed on which payment gateways apps listed on Playstore can use, the criteria for registration and whether other skill-based gaming apps will also be allowed. We will have to wait and see how the situation will evolve in the near future,” Chokhani said in a statement.

According to Abhishek Malhotra, managing partner of TMT Law Practice, the selective exclusion of all “real money games” (RMGs), except rummy and fantasy, is clearly discriminatory.

“We must rethink this decision, failing which Google could invite litigation. It certainly creates an unnecessary distinction between different types of game offerings in the RMG category in the booming gaming industry,” Malhotra said.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement that they are constantly exploring ways for local developers to build successful businesses and provide enjoyable experiences on Google Play.

“Through this pilot program, we are taking a measured approach that will help us bring learnings together and maintain an enjoyable and safe experience for our users,” the spokesperson added.

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