The Goods and Service Tax (GST) council of India seems to be decided on a tax increase of 28% on gambling. However, this is still not yet fully decided. Furthermore, the legality of online casinos in India is still being debated. There are multiple contributing factors that the council needs to rule on before the tax hike can pass. Read on below for more.
As it stands, the current tax on the land-based gambling industry stands at 18%. However, the council wishes to increase this by a further 10%, pushing the tax rate to 28%. At the time of writing the taxation on online gambling stands at 28%. However, this in itself is being challenged.
Horse racing officials have taken a stand, stating that the 28% online gambling tax rate will kill their business. This comes after online bookmakers made it possible for horse track wagering to be done online.
Currently, the most significant debate underfoot is whether to tax land-based gamblers on chips used solely for gambling, or on all casino purchases including food and drinks.
On the one hand, the council seems to believe the 28% tax rate should be extended across the board. This means patrons will be taxed on anything purchased from the establishment. This includes food, drinks, curios and, in short, anything you can buy with your chips.
On the other hand, part of the council believes gamblers should only be taxed on chips used for play within the casino.
The divide is deepened by the input tax credit (ITC). Currently, the ITC grants credit to restaurants that place the current 18% casino tax on their food.
Another problem that the council face is determining what can be classed as games of chance, and what can be classed as games of skill. This is, yet again, another divided argument.
Parliament members have stated that poker is a game of chance. Those same council members have also classified the game of rummy as a game of skill. As such, the group needs to come to a decision on what determines a game as that of chance, or skill.
The GST council is set to meet once more on the 15th of July. They will, supposedly, give their decision on the taxation of all areas of gambling then. However, parliament has been going back and forth on the gambling debate for the past decade. This goes to show how complex the debate actually is.
Until the council can agree on all components of gambling, we do not see a verdict being reached.