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Google to allow real-money gaming apps on Play Store


Tech giant Google plans to allow real-money games on Play Store that will be approved by the self-regulatory bodies, once the government introduces the new regulatory framework for gaming platforms.

This comes after Google ran a year-long pilot to allow fantasy sports and rummy apps on Google Play to be available for users in India.

These apps will remain available for download via Google Play as they were part of a pilot project by the tech giant. The pilot, started in September 2022, will end later this month.

“We intend to enable distribution on Google Play for all self regulatory bodies (SRB)-verified online real money games that comply with our policies. We are closely tracking all developments in this regard to determine next steps and timelines,” a Google spokesperson said.

Google has also updated its support page to mention that it will no longer accept new apps into the pilot programme after the pilot ends. It will provide a grace period for existing apps that are already a part of the pilot programme to remain on Google Play till January 15, 2024.

India’s gaming sector

It comes at a time when real money gaming sector in India is reeling under pressure due to the new 28 per cent GST on the full face value. In another meeting on August 2, the constitutional body clarified that the tax will be applicable on the deposits made by players to participate in a game, thus avoiding repetitive tax when they use their winning money to play more games.

In April, MeitY notified new gaming-related amendments to the IT Act 2021, allowing multiple self-regulatory organisations (SROs) to determine whether a real money game where money is involved is permitted to operate or not in India.

The players are still awaiting more clarity from the GST Council on this while dealing with layoffs, shutdowns. Mobile Premier League (MPL) has laid off 350 employees, citing the additional tax burden. Spartan Poker laid off 125 employees and Hike Rush Gaming Universe also reduced its workforce by 22 per cent. Fantok has announced a temporary suspension of its operations.

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