The online gaming and gambling industry in India has been growing rapidly in recent years. This growth has prompted the government to take a closer look at the taxation of the industry. Recently the GST Council of India made a significant decision to enforce a 28% tax. The tax would be applied on the entire face value of bets placed on online gaming, casino, and horse racing. This decision has quite big implications for the industry, you the players, and the government’s revenue. This article will delve into the details of the new tax, the reactions from the industry, the regional concerns and most importantly the impact on players.
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India’s New Online Gaming Tax
The government believes that the online gaming and gambling industry has seen significant growth in recent years. And it is essential to tax the sector appropriately to generate revenue. Additionally, the government has compared the taxation of the online gaming and gambling sector with the taxation of the cryptocurrency sector. Stating that both are high-risk industries that need to be taxed at a higher rate.
The new tax framework requires that a 28% tax be applied on the entire face value of bets placed in online gaming, casinos, and horse racing. And is presumed to be active from October 1. Previously, the tax was imposed on the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR). GGR is a portion of the amount used to buy “chips”. However, under the new tax the entire amount used to buy “chips” will be taxed. This means that casinos will have less money for operations and the payouts. This is due to the tax will be imposed on the whole amount not just the GGR. The GST Council decided to end the distinction between skill-based gaming, such as online gaming, and chance-based gaming, like casinos and horse racing. As a result, a uniform 28% tax will be levied on the full face value of online gaming, casinos, and horse racing.
In short, for the gaming companies, the increased tax means less money for managing their premises and equipment and even for the prize pool. For the players, it means less money to bet with due to the increased tax and platform fees. This could lead to game abandonment, as the potential revenue may no longer be good enough. And the cost of playing is comparatively higher. This, in turn, would affect the revenue earned by gaming businesses and, eventually, the tax collected by the government.
Online Gaming Tax – Industry Reactions
The decision to impose a 28% tax on the full face value of bets has been met with mixed reactions from the industry. The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and the Esports Federation of India (EGF) have welcomed the clarification. And stating that it will provide a ‘fighting chance to innovate and rebuild. However, they also expressed concerns that the tax increase could set the Indian online gaming industry back several years. Some in Online Gambling and Casino have even termed the decision a ‘death knell’. As it would impact investments and employment, especially in the online casino sector.
So overall, the industry has expressed concerns. Concerns that the increased tax burden will hamper the growth and innovation of the online gaming and gambling industry in India. It may lead to fewer employment opportunities, investments, and a decline in the number of players, all of which will ultimately affect the overall revenue earned by the gaming businesses and the tax collected by the government.
States like Goa and Sikkim have raised concerns about the new tax framework. This is due to land-based casinos being a significant part of the local economy. They have requested that the 28% tax be applied to the gross gaming revenue (GGR) instead of the entire face value. Because they mean that they are a smaller scale of business compared to online platforms. Goa and Sikkim argue that the increased tax will further challenge the land-based casino industry. As they mean that they still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism and revenue.
This new tax framework could lead to reduced revenue and employment in the region. And they feel that there is a need for a more nuanced approach to the gaming industry’s taxation. The Council has agreed to review the implementation after six months, considering the concerns of these states.
Online Gaming Tax Impact on Players
Players are likely to find the increased cost of playing online games and placing bets less attractive. The higher tax and platform fees will reduce the amount of money players have to bet with. Thus potentially leading to a decline in the number of active players. This decline in player activity will in the end affect the revenue earned by gaming businesses. And as such the tax collected by the government.
Online Gaming Tax Legal Concerns
The implementation of the new tax will require amendments to the central GST law, as well as state GST laws. The changes will not be retrospective but are seen more as a clarification regarding what’s taxable under the GST law. This means that the tax will be applicable from the date of implementation. And will not affect any transactions made before that date.
However, the implementation of the new tax framework is expected to face legal challenges. Gaming companies may challenge the decision in court. By arguing that the increased tax burden is unfair and will hamper the growth of the industry. Additionally, there may be challenges related to the uniform tax rate for skill-based and chance-based gaming. As the industry argues that skill-based games should be taxed at a lower rate.
Live Casino India’s View
In conclusion, the new tax framework may bring higher revenue for the government. However, it raises several concerns that need to be addressed to ensure the successful development of the online gaming and gambling industry in India. We at Live Casino India think that a more nuanced approach is likely necessary in the end. And there is a need to create a tax framework that is fair and sustainable for all, not just a blanket tax. We will see how the chips land after 6 months. Hopefully, the online casino market will hang on and we won’t have to look outside of India in the future for our online casino fun.