Bring uniform tax, regulate online gaming says Sushil Modi in Rajya Sabha

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Rajya Sabha MP and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Friday urged the government to levy uniform tax on them and also come up with a comprehensive regulatory framework. “I would urge the Government of India (for) uniform tax for online gaming and I urge the government to come up with a comprehensive framework for the regulation of online gaming,” Modi said while speaking in the Upper House during Zero Hour on Friday.

The valuation of supplies in the casino and gaming industry has been a contentious issue ever since the introduction of GST in 2017. The GST Council had constituted a 7 member Group of Ministers (GoM) in May to examine whether any change in legal provisions is required for the valuation of services provided by online gaming, racecourses, and casinos.

The GST Council had set four-point terms of reference for the GoM which includes examining the taxability of certain transactions in casinos. The GST Secretariat had recently asked the GST Council to provide clarity on the GST rate and the applicability of the levy on these services. Recently, the Punjab Haryana High Court (PHHC) ordered the GST department to take no coercive action on an online gaming company against the demand notices until the GoM constituted to examine the issues provides clarity. 

The senior BJP leader said that during the pre-COVID period weekly time spent on mobile gaming was 2.5 hours and 11 percent of total smartphone time was spent on gaming. “During the lockdown, it has increased from 2.5 hours to 4 hours and as of today there are more than 43 crore users, on online gaming (platforms), he said.

Modi said that crores of kids and youngsters are increasingly getting addicted to online gaming as shown by the sharp increase in the number of downloads of the same across the country. “I am raising the issue of online gaming, the booming online gaming industry which has become a problem for youngsters in the country and crores and crores of youngsters are getting addictive to them. Because it is online it is very difficult to prevent the kids from becoming addictive to online gaming,” he said. The MP referred to Dream11, Mobile Premier League in his speech.

With the exponential rise in the number of people joining the gaming platforms, Modi said that that the total revenue of the industry is projected to reach about Rs 29,000 crore by 2025 from the current Rs 13,000 crore approximately. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw to take note of the suggestion. “Please take note of what has been said, consult law ministry and do the needful,” the Chairman advised the Minister.