RMG Sector: Clarity on GST & legality of gaming ban laws, Digital India Act may see light in Modi 3.0

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As Narendra Modi is poised to take oath as the prime minister for a historic third term, the real money gaming sector expects legal clarity on various issues surrounding the sunrise industry.

The immediate item the sector may want the new government to consider is the review of the 28% GST imposed from 1 October 2023. On August 2, 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while announcing 28 per GST on full face value for online money gaming, casinos, and horse racing, said that the recommendation would be reviewed six months after the implementation date, i.e., October 1. The six-month period ended on March 30 but could not be reviewed on account of elections.

This high tax rate has resulted in a wave of layoffs with a few startups even shutting down in recent months. Since the implementation of the new tax rate, the government has seen a sixfold jump in the tax revenue while the grapevine is that the government may not reduce the tax rate. Industry stakeholders have been advocating for a revision, urging the government to consider calculating the GST based on the gross gaming revenue (GGR) instead of the face value of bets.

The industry also expects the issue of retrospective tax claims to be resolved in this Modi term with the apex court scheduled to hear the matter in the next few months. The department is reported to have served notices to several gaming companies for recovery of a whopping Rs 1.12 lakh crores. Companies like Dream11 (Rs 28,000 crore), Games24x7 (Rs 20,000 crore) and Delta Corp (Rs 16,000+ crore) are among the biggest to receive DGGI’s notices. Similarly, the challenges and appeals on the constitutionality of online gaming ban laws may also have an outcome in the coming years settling the matter once and for all.

Data Protection Law which was approved by the Parliament may be implemented in the coming days while the Digital India Act which proposes to revamp the technology laws may be taken up by the Parliament in the coming months.