28% tax on online gaming: President assents to GST amendment laws

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The President of India gave assent to the laws amending CGST and IGST Acts on Friday (August 18).

The amendments are necessitated for implementing 28% GST on online gaming, casinos, and horse racing. With the proposed timeline of implementation (1 October) less than 45 days away, the assent of President marks a crucial step in in adhering to tentative timeline for implementation.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced the bills in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Friday (11 August), the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

Within hours of the Lok Sabha clearing, the Rajya Sabha returned the two proposed legislations to the Lok Sabha with a voice vote without any discussion

State governments will now need to approve amendments to the state GST laws in their legislatures.

The GST Council, the apex decision making body for indirect tax in July had approved levy of 28 per cent GST on full face value of entry level bets in online gaming, casinos and horse racing. By another meeting on August 2, the Council clarified that the tax will be on the deposit amount by a player.

The fast-growing online gaming sector has termed the new tax regime as detrimental for investments and jobs. The regime will be reviewed six months after implementation to assuage industry concerns.

Few online gaming portals including unicorn MPL have already announced layoffs citing difficult business environment in light of 28% GST.  Spartan Poker recently cut down its work force amid impending tax overhaul.

The amendments also make GST registration mandatory for overseas platforms offering online money gaming services to Indian consumers and a special provision bringing tax liability on such platforms are part of the amendments. The move is intended to target online betting  platforms which have no physical presence in India and are alleged to have evaded thousands of crores in taxes.