gom: GoM seeks legal panel view for GST on online games of skill

The group of ministers (GoM) mandated to decide on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) levy on online gaming, horse racing, and casinos is considering whether online games of skill should be treated differently from such games of chance.

The committee, headed by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, which met on Monday has reached out to the law committee on the legal aspect of such differential treatment, officials with knowledge of the deliberations told ET.

The decision to seek legal opinion comes after online gaming companies cited various court orders that distinguished games of skill from games of chance.

The GoM had earlier decided to recommend a levy of 28% GST on gross gaming revenue for online gaming. It has now sought more time to submit its final recommendations.

“The issue is not on the levy, but on the legality of clubbing both games of chance and games of skill together as betting,” said one official. “Therefore, a legal opinion is a must before the final submission is made to avoid any legal dispute in future.”

The gaming industry representatives met officials from the finance ministry last month, making a case for why a game of skill should be taxed differently. The industry has argued that online games of skills are protected under Article 19(1) (g) and Article 301 of the Constitution.

Some of the GoM members pointed out that differential rate may result in fresh litigation, as there is no standard definition of a game of skill, the official said.

The GST Council wants the report before September 10, said another official, adding that the decision will depend on getting legal clarity on the matter. The GoM was expected to submit its report on August 10, but had taken an extension.

“Chaired a meeting of the GoM on casinos, race courses & online gaming in New Delhi,” Sangma said in a tweet after the meeting.