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Clearly Defining Games of Chance and Skill A Must Before Deciding Taxation Regime, Says GST Law Committee

The GST council’s Law Committee reportedly wants clarity on the difference between games of “skill” and “chance” in the absence of uniformly applied definitions

What’s the news: The Goods and Services Tax Council’s Law Committee purportedly believes that clearly defining “games of skill” and “games of chance” is necessary before deciding how they should be taxed, reported Economic Times.  According to sources aware of the matter, unclear definitions will result in legal challenges, the Committee reportedly said to a Group of Ministers led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma investigating the issue.  Why it matters: As noted by Economic Times, there are no uniformly applied legal definitions for what constitutes a game of skill or a game of chance (which involves gambling or betting and is largely outlawed by state governments). In the absence of a clarifying framework, courts and state governments distinguish between the two on an ad-hoc basis. This has led to regulatory confusion for online gaming platforms attempting to toe the regulatory line, as well as multiple legal challenges to laws brought in by state governments. The Centre’s much-awaited uniform framework on online gaming may help clarify some of this ambiguity.  A uniform definition is preferable, especially given that the Court-decided definitions of online gaming and gambling often overlap, said the Committee to the Group. It recommended that the Group either rework and clarify these definitions before submitting its final report to the GST Council, or wait for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s forthcoming framework on the classification of these games.  The Group of Ministers is examining GST regimes for online gaming, casinos, and horse racing. Currently, 18% GST…

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