Maharashtra looks to regulate online gaming, impose tax at 25% of profits

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As first reported by Mirror Now, the Maharashtra government is mulling to regularize online gaming in the state. The government intends to amend four existing regulations to consolidate web-based gaming. For web-based gaming misrepresentation, the public authorities make rules for detention for up to seven years and a fine of 10 lakh rupees. There are likewise rules of 3-year detention and a Rs. 10 lakh fine on web-based card extortion. In the meantime, web-based gaming organizations are looking for some help.

As per a report on Times of India, the office of the director-general of police, (Mumbai), has sought the opinion of Nashik commissioner of police Deepak Pandey regarding amendments that are necessary for Acts pertaining to online gaming. In response to the information sought, commissioner Pandey has recommended changes in the Maharashtra Lotteries (Control and Tax) and (Tax) Act 1958, the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Act (MPDA) and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999.

“Due to the lenient nature of the existing laws against gambling, a proposal was sent to the state DGP citing the need for amendments in various acts to keep a check on online gaming. Against this backdrop, we got a letter from the government through the office of the state DGP enquiring about the Acts that needed amendments and where the changes are required. In response to the same, I have suggested recommendations about the amendments in various acts recently,” said police commissioner Deepak Pandey to Times of India. A post like the lottery commissioner is to be created to oversee gaming sector. Pandey’s report said the immediate revenue estimation to the state is INR 2,000 crore and can reach INR 10,000 crore in the near future if taxed at 25% of the profits.

Pandey has proposed the addition of ‘online gaming’ in the Maharashtra Lotteries (Control and Tax) and Prize Competitions (Tax) Act 1958, the addition of ‘definition online gaming’ in section 2 of the same act, amendment in section 4, which proposes the quantum of punishment and fine for playing the unauthorized online game and some other amendments as well, like making online gaming a cognizable, non-bailable and noncompoundable offence triable by the sessions court. has also recommended the addition of the definition of online gaming in the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, the inclusion of quantum of punishment for unauthorized online gaming, etc.

He further suggested that ‘online gamers’ be added to the existing ‘Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Dangerous Persons and video Act, 1981 (MPDA) and inclusion of unauthorized online gaming in section 2 of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999. The police commissioner has given practical, social and legal justifications for the 19 amendments he has suggested in the four acts.

In December 2021, Deepak Pandey has written to DGP Sanjay Pandey, citing the need to change the existing Gambling Act. Deepak Pandey then said that the existing provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, are lenient and people operating online gambling games are taking advantage of the same.