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

By Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil

NEW DELHI, Sept. 20 (Reuters)Indian online gaming platform Winzo has sued Google GOOGL.O to prevent the tech giant from allowing real-money fantasy sports and rummy games on its platform because Google would do so discriminatingly, a legal filing seen by Reuters found.

Winzo offers paid games in those categories, as well as many others, such as carrom, puzzles, and car racing, and will therefore not take full advantage of a newly adopted Google policy.

Alphabet Inc unit Google didn’t allow real money games in India for years, but this month said such fantasy sports and rummy games could join the Play Store marketplace in India as part of a year-long pilot program.

Google said in a policy update that those two categories include games in which participants used their knowledge of athletic events and athletes, strategies or memorize the fall of playing cards. It made no mention of other game formats and their treatment.

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

Winzo’s lawsuit said Google’s decision “is an unfair business practice.”

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

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The legal challenge comes as an Indian government panel has attempted to create a regulatory body to classify online games based on skill or chance, introduce rules to block banned formats and take a tougher 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, it says, adding that on average, they each spend an hour a day on its platform. The lawsuit reveals that Winzo posted annual sales of approximately $13 million in 2020-21.

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(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi)

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