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Google to pilot test permitting fantasy sports and rummy apps in India

Google plans to run a pilot to allow daily fantasy sports apps and rummy games on Play Store in India, addressing a request from the local community that has long expressed frustration at the Android-maker for not permitting services on its store in the world’s second-largest market that it allows in many parts of the world.

Google said it will begin a “limited-time” pilot starting September 28 to permit the aforementioned apps on Play Store in India. India-incorporated firms looking to participate in the pilot will be required to submit an application form, the company said on a support page.

The American giant has for years maintained a strict policy against daily fantasy sports apps, in part because it has believed that many new internet users are struggling to understand the complexity of these programs and losing money. Google has maintained such a hard line against such apps that it infamously pulled popular app Paytm from its Play Store for several hours because the Indian fintech startup was promoting what Google deemed as gambling in the app.

Apps looking to participate in the pilot program will need to ensure that they only serve users aged 18 or above, have provided their address to ensure their local states permit daily fantasy sports, as well as enter their bank details and PAN for tax purposes. Google’s requirement also asks these apps to not use the Google Play billing for in-app purchases. It’s unclear if the company is allowing fantasy apps to use alternative payment methods for that. We have asked Google for more details, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.

The Play Store pilot for fantasy apps mandates developers to make detailed disclaimers about the valid age to use the app, risks in playing the game, and prizes at stake.

Despite Google’s stand on fantasy sports, scores of startups have built impressive large businesses in the country. Dream11, valued at over $8 billion, and MPL, valued at over $2 billion, serve tens of millions of users in India through their Android progressive web apps and Android apps that users are required to install manually.


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