This is a special newsletter that went out to MediaNama subscribers on August 25, 2023. Online Gaming Taxing Times: The online gaming industry suffered an upheaval last month as the Goods and Services Tax Council announced a 28% tax levy on the total game value, which was later changed to be applicable to entry deposits, for online real money gaming. One of the biggest contentions was putting real money gaming in the same slab as gambling—essentially equating the two. “…There is no agenda to finish the online gaming industry,” the Finance Minister said during a press conference. It’s hard to believe, however, that the govt didn’t see the backlash coming. The industry cried foul immediately. The decision is “unconstitutional, irrational, and egregious” in lumping online skill gaming with gambling activities, CEO of a leading gaming association said. The move will deter foreign investments in Indian gaming companies, an entrepreneur said. Some others, like politicians, took note, too. Amidst all this, it becomes extremely important to understand how different types of online gaming groups see themselves and thus, wish to be distinguished from each other. One of them, the video game industry, decided to take matters into its own hands. To voice their concerns about being equated with gambling, 45 video game companies wrote a letter urging the Indian government to draft separate rules to regulate them. Aarathi sat down with Harish C, Founder of Outlier Games— one of the abovementioned 45 video game companies, to understand the industry's grievances better.…
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