WinZO sues Google to stop new online gaming policy

Online gaming platform WinZO has sued Google to stop the tech giant from allowing real-money games for fantasy sports and rummy on its platform, Reuters news report said.
Google developersWinZO’s app offers real-money games in those categories but also in many others that Google still will not accept, such as carrom, puzzles and car racing, and will therefore not be eligible to benefit from the newly adopted Google policy.

For years, Google allowed no games involving real money in India, but this month said such games for fantasy sports and rummy could join its Play Store marketplace in the country as part of a year-long pilot program.

Google said in a policy update that those two categories comprised games in which contestants used their knowledge of athletic events and athletes, strategised or memorized the fall of playing cards. It did not mention other game formats and their treatment.

WinZO, in its lawsuit filed at the Delhi High Court, said it contacted Google on Sept. 10 to contest the updated policy, saying it was “unfair”.

WinZO did not receive any response, forcing it to seek court relief. The company’s filing described Google’s decision as one that “amounts to unfair trade practice.” It argued that all games of skill enjoy constitutional protection.

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

WinZO, which is backed by U.S.-based venture firm Griffin Gaming Partners, has a valuation of more than $350 million.

Its legal challenge comes as an Indian government panel has sought creation of a regulatory body to classify online games as based on either skill or chance, to introduce rules to block prohibited formats and to take a stricter stance on gambling websites.

Foreign 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 about 85 million users in India. They each spend an hour on its platform daily. The lawsuit shows WinZO recorded annual revenue of about $13 million in 2020-21.