Tech giant Google plans to allow real-money gaming on the Play Store after the government rolled out a new regulatory framework for gaming platforms and received approval from self-regulatory bodies.
This follows a year-long pilot by Google allowing Indian users to use fantasy sports and rummy apps on Google Play.
The apps will still be available for download through Google Play as they are part of the tech giant’s pilot program. The pilot, which began in September 2022, will end later this month.
“We intend to support publishing on Google Play for all online real-money games that have been verified by the Self-Regulatory Body (SRB) and comply with our policies. We are closely monitoring all developments in this regard to determine next steps and timelines, said a Google spokesperson.
Google also updated its support page to say it will no longer accept new apps into the pilot program after the pilot ends. It will provide a grace period for existing apps already participating in the pilot program to remain on Google Play until January 15, 2024.
India’s gaming industry
The real money gaming industry in India is under pressure due to the new 28% GST at full face value. At another meeting on Aug. 2, the constitutional body clarified that the tax would apply to deposits made by players to participate in games, thereby avoiding double taxation when they use their winnings to play more games.
In April, MeitY notified new gaming-related amendments to the IT Act 2021 to allow multiple self-regulatory organizations (SROs) to decide whether real-money games involving money are allowed to operate in India.
The players are still awaiting further clarification from the GST Council on this while dealing with layoffs, lockouts. The Mobile Premier League (MPL) has sacked 350 staff, citing extra tax. Spartan Poker laid off 125 employees, and Hike Rush Gaming Universe also cut its workforce by 22%. Fantok has announced a temporary cessation of operations.