Paytm now back on Play Store after being removed by Google for ‘gambling policy violation’

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on September 18, 2020

App was seen offering cash back, leading users to real money gambling sites, say experts

Paytm made its way back into Google’s Play Store hours after it was removed allegedly for violating the Internet giant’s policy on unregulated gambling apps. Though Google did not disclose the reason for removing Paytm, market experts suggested that it could be because the app was offering cash-backs or leading users to real money gambling sites.

“While Paytm did not directly engage in, or promote sports betting or gambling, it did have links to third-party sites which did. The ease of using Paytm on these third-party apps may have been viewed by Google as the element which makes Paytm as supporting these sites.

Google appears to have taken an ethical stand against apps that promote or even advertise other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting.

Since many other apps are also promoting betting and gambling websites through ads and pop-ups, if Google applies the same standard, I would expect more apps will get taken off the Play Store,” Akash Karmakar, Partner, Law Offices of Panag & Babu, said. The apps — Paytm and Paytm First Games — run by One97 Communications were pulled down on Friday morning, even though the company’s other apps, such as Paytm Money, Paytm For Business and Paytm Mall, were available for download on Play Store.

Industry sources said the move came after repeated reminders to Paytm were not adhered to.

Google confirmed that the action against Paytm was taken in line with its gambling policy, but did not provide details.

“We don’t 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,” Google said in a blog post on Friday.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the self-regulatory industry body for fantasy sports, said that in the past, FanCode and SportsTiger, sister brands of Dream11 and MyTeam11, respectively, were removed from the Play Store for violation of Google’s policy as they were promoting their fantasy sports apps.

In a tweet, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said, “Thanks everyone for your support! Paytm App is back, live in Play Store. We launched a UPI CashBack campaign this morning. Our app got suspended by Google for this. India, you decide if giving cash back is gambling.”

Published on September 18, 2020

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