On Friday, Google Play Store users were startled to discover that the Paytm app was no longer available. While Google had not directly named the company, a blog post published around the same time stated that the company did not allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting.
"This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies," the post had added.
Later, Paytm too confirmed that this had indeed been the issue. "Today afternoon, we received communication from Google that they are suspending our app because they believe this to be a violation of their Play Store policies on gambling," read a Paytm blog.
Since then however, speculation has been rampant. While some noted that Google too had their own payment platform, others speculated whether Dream 11 was linked to the turn of events. For the uninitiated, Dream 11 is a Indian fantasy sports platform that is also the title sponsor for the upcoming IPL.
Hours after the removal of Paytm, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) on Friday took to Twitter stating that the regulatory body was "happy to see such strong moves by Google to reestablish a level playing field by removing any App that violates its policies".
"FIFS on behalf of all its Fantasy Sports members strongly urges @GoogleIndia to allow Fantasy Sports Apps on the Play Store, as Fantasy Sports has been recognised by the Supreme Court of India as ‘Game of Skill’. We thank Google for strictly adhering to its policies and safeguarding the interest of all Fantasy Sports operators - big or small," the post added.
And while this could be construed to be an oblique reference to Paytm First Games (which was also removed today), some news reports have offered up more definitive information. As per a Hindustan Times report, the FIFS had initiated the removal by complaining to Google. A note accessed by the publication quotes FIFS as saying that it had "observed that Google has been using its policies, rules, and regulations selectively" to allow a few large companies such as Paytm to list and promote cash contests and to distribute and list their real money gaming apps on the Play Store. Reportedly, the FIFS had taken up the issue and reached out to Google for a solution.
How does Dream 11 enter into this story?
Dream 11 is the founding member of the Federation of Indian Fantasy (FIFS), and its classification as a fantasy sports app means that Dream 11 is not available on the Google Play Store.
Both Dream 11 and Paytm First Games offers users the opportunity to participate after a fashion in ongoing sporting events by creating their own fantasy teams. Another interesting facet to be noted here is the fact that both the companies are sponsors for Indian Premier League 2020. While Paytm is the Umpire Sponsor, Dream 11 is the Title Sponsor this year.
The removal of Paytm First Games from the Google Play Store will thus 'level the playing field'.