It seems to be a tough road for the group of ministers (GoM) on online gaming, casinos and race courses, to arrive at a consensus when it comes to the valuation and tax treatment under the GST ambit.
According to people in the know of the matter, the “GST Council nominated GoM on online gaming, casinos and race courses is stuck in limbo and due to fresh differences among the GoM members on same norms being used for casinos, race courses and online gaming, the group is unable to finalise its report.”
The 47th GST Council, held in Chandigarh last month, had given time till July 15 to the GoM on online gaming, casinos and race courses to iron out the concerns and sticky issues and submit its reworked report.
The GoM last met virtually on July 12, under the chairmanship of Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, where, due to differences in opinion, the group could not conclude its report.
"The top difference that the members of the GoM feel and they voiced during the last meeting was as to how and why all the three sectors can be treated at par when they have a different nature of betting and thus it was presented by various members that they require a different valuation calculation mechanism,” sources added.
However, it is understood that the chairman of the GoM is trying to get all the members on board and consider only one valuation mechanism to ensure that compliance and enforcement is easy and acceptable to the industry too.
Given such an aim, the GoM has now proposed to meet yet again for further deliberations before re-submitting its report.
“The GoM now plans to conclude discussions and submit its revised report by August 10. But no new date for the next meeting has been decided as yet,” sources said.
The GoM has been deliberating finalising a common valuation mechanism and hiking and bringing the GST rate on online gaming, casinos, race courses and lottery at par at 28 percent.
Meanwhile, experts feel that valuation definitely continues to be a concern but treating all the three sectors — online gaming, casinos, race courses, at the same rate is also a sticky issue for the industry.
Ankur Gupta, Practice Leader (Indirect Tax), SW India, said that while the GoM is still deliberating on levying 28 percent GST on online gaming, the industry is also making an attempt to make tax rate the status quo of 18 percent. "The industry is making representations on the ground that grouping online games with betting/gambling would be a big hit to all market players," he said.
Gupta added that in most countries, the online gaming industry is taxable, more or less, at par with the current taxability of 18 percent, which is why it is a disadvantage for the Indian game companies if the taxability moves to 28 percent. "Now, what has to be seen is the valuation of these services. It should be applied only on margin/platform fee because in case it is applicable on the entire pool value then it would adversely impact the customers as well as they would get less playable value," he said, adding that they were hoping that in the final report submitted by the GoM, all aspects including valuation are addressed.