Google Greenlights Real Money Games on India’s Play Store …But It Comes At A Cost

Indian gamers are in luck, as Google has announced that they will permit more real-money games (RMG) on the Google Play Store officially in June 2024, following a successful pilot program. 

As implied by its name, such apps enable players to bet on games and win real money, thus, they would be gambling. These game apps will include best Rupee casino India games, lotto, sports wagers and even fantasy sports. These real-money gaming apps will come with a detailed list of disclaimers highlighting the perils of gambling harm. While Google plans on supporting such apps, it will still be adhering to the numerous rules pertaining to real money games the Indian government has outlined

What are real money games?

Real money games are those smartphone games that allow gambling with money. For instance, an RMG app may be a casino app that accepts debit card payments to fund a slot account where players can bet and spin a slot game for a Rupee. Another example of a real money gaming app would be a sports betting app where a customer deposits money to make a bet on the outcome of an upcoming cricket game and the player who will take the first wicket.

As many avid gamers will know, The Google Play store did not allow real money games across any country in the world up until recent years, with the functionality starting to roll out in 2021. The Google Play store allows licensed or authorized gambling apps that offer online casino gaming, sports betting, horse racing, lotteries, and fantasy sports apps, depending on what is legal within that country. 

As real-money gaming on the Play Store is restricted by global regions, these real-money gambling apps will need to be downloaded within the region by a Google account associated with that region. RMG app access is more highly restricted than other apps, too; there will be stringent checks in place to ensure that a player is of age before they are able to play with real money.

India’s Google Play store RMG launch follows a successful pilot 

Despite the launch of RMG not coming until June 2024 in India, some users may have been aware of the pilot program that ran from September 2022 to September 2023. In this RMG pilot, Google allowed developers to launch fantasy sports and rummy apps on the Play Store, as a little taste of what was to come in a thriving market. The pilot program restricted the apps from collecting customer payments via Google Play billing. The pilot program was accepted with welcome arms by the community, particularly the growing fantasy sports user base.

The Indian gaming scene is booming

The new RMG component to the Google Play store is well-placed to be a super success, thanks to India’s appetite for gaming and continued smartphone uptake growth. An EY report puts the Indian online gaming Industry as a $200M CAGR market in 2023, with 80% of that value generated from real money gaming. As smartphone use grows and Android remains the dominant platform of choice, licensed or authorized game developers will be quick to jump on and release games for the market.

While there are plenty of Indian-local developers to look to, there will likely also be interest from the big players in the gambling scene worldwide. Behemoths like Bet365 and William Hill will likely be eyeing up the market, looking for a piece of the piece to join their global successes.

India joins Brazil and Mexico

India’s RMG launch will also coincide with its launch in both Mexico and Brazil, too. These three countries represent a huge gaming market and it will be interesting to see how the launches all play out. Mexico also had a similar

So, what’s the cost?

With the announcement, Google has also announced that they will be introducing a new fee for real money games. This “service fee” is quite a change for gambling businesses who have been used to lower fees elsewhere. 

While Google remains tight-lipped over the total service fee amount that will be charged to RMG developers, it currently has a service fee of between 15 and 30 per cent on all in-app purchases across other apps. 

It will be interesting to see how much this fee ends up being. Indian RMG providers are already under pressure thanks to a newly introduced 28% tax on their revenues across the board. Prior to this tax introduction, some providers were getting away with much less; 18%. The new tax hike meant a reconfiguration of business operations to accommodate. If the Google service fee is a similar percentage at the gate, then businesses could see almost 60% of their revenues carried away before they see even just a Rupee.


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