Advertisement

Online gaming industry pitches for retaining 18% GST

Online games of skills include e-sports, fantasy games, rummy, and poker or chess

Agencies | Updated on: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 09:08 PM IST

At present, services of casinos, horse racing, and online gaming attract 18 percent GST.
/Representative image |
At present, services of casinos, horse racing, and online gaming attract 18 percent GST. /Representative image |
Advertisement

The online skill-based gaming industry has made a case for retaining the service under the 18 percent GST slab instead of putting it into the highest 28 percent tax rate category, saying the move will badly hit the $2.2-billion sector.

The increase in taxation would not only have a catastrophic impact on the industry but also encourage offshore operators who would circumvent Indian tax jurisdiction by hosting games in some other country, Games24x7 Co-CEO Trivikraman Thampy said.

''It would be a triple whammy -- the industry loses out, the government loses out on tax revenue and players loses out as they would be exposed to unscrupulous operators,'' he said.

An association of online skill-based gaming platforms has made a representation before the authorities for retaining Goods and Services Tax (GST) at the current level for the industry which has 400 players employing about 45,000 people.

Online games of skills include e-sports, fantasy games, rummy, and poker or chess. Such games are either free to participate in or involve real money in the form of platform fees.

The issue has gained traction as the GST Council in its next meeting may take a call on hiking rates on casinos, racecourses, and online gaming services to 28 percent as suggested by a panel of state finance ministers. However, the agenda for the meeting is yet to be finalized.

A decision on whether the tax should be levied on gross or net valuation would be taken after further deliberations at the officer level.

At present, services of casinos, horse racing, and online gaming attract 18 percent GST.

The government had in May last year set up a panel of state ministers for better valuation of services of casinos, online gaming portals, and racecourses for levying GST.

The online gaming industry is directly linked to the growth of several other sectors such as semiconductor, banking, payment gateway, telecom, fintech, sports, and entertainment.

According to Thampy, GST is currently charged on a platform fee, termed Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR), rather than on the entire amount pooled in for a game.

''International best practices also highlight the optimal taxing bracket for the online gaming industry between 15 and 20 percent. Our current GST rate at 18 percent is in line with best practices and reduces the incidence of illegitimate operators,'' he said.

Online games of skills are inherently different from games of chance, and the skill-based gaming industry does not constitute gambling or lottery, he added.

(With PTI inputs)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Published on: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 09:08 PM IST