Google may allow SRB-verified real money games on Play Store


Google may extend an olive branch to real-money gaming companies by allowing their apps on the Play Store. These apps, however, will be the ones approved by the self-regulatory bodies (SRBs).

It may be recalled that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) earlier this year notified the rules for online gaming. The notification said the ministry may designate as many online gaming SRBs as it may consider necessary for the purposes of verifying an online real money game as a permissible online real money game under these rules.

These bodies will also be responsible for publishing a framework for verifying an online real money game, which includes measures that such online real money gaming is not against the interests of the sovereignty of the country.

“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. As we await the planned implementation of the SRB framework for verification of permissible online real-money games in India, we are providing a grace period to existing pilot apps to remain on Google Play until Jan 15, 2024 (subject to continued compliance with the pilot program terms),” Google said in a statement.

Google will not accept any new apps in the pilot program after the scheduled end date of September 28, 2023.

Moneycontrol reported the development first.

It is worth noting that Google has kept an arms-length distance from real-money gaming apps for its app store. Users accessed these apps by downloading APKs from browsers. The rise in popularity of such applications in recent years, however, prompted Google to revisit this policy.

In September 2022, Google introduced a year-long pilot to allow fantasy sports and rummy games on its Play Store. The move was welcomed by the online gaming firms. The deadline for the pilot, however, is now nearing an end. It appears there will be a temporary freeze on approving more apps until the new regulatory frameworks are in place in India. 

Read more: 28% GST on online real money games: 3 layoffs, 3 shutdowns, what’s next?

Meanwhile, firms that offer real-money games are jolted by the 28% GST move despite a massive backlash from investors as well as founders. Since the GST Council decided to retain the tax regime, several online real money games have been adversely affected, which includes mass layoffs. 

Mobile Premier League (MPL) was the first to announce the impact as the Peak XV Partners-funded company let go of 350 employees. The company attributed the massive rise in tax burden due to GST to the layoffs. Online poker gaming platform Spartan Poker reportedly fired 125 employees. Kavin Bharati Mittal-led Hike Rush Gaming Universe also gave pink slips to 55 employees. 

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