Esports Not Subject To 28% Online Gaming GST: ESFI President

Esports Not Subject To 28% Online Gaming GST: ESFI President

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In the latest meeting of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council in New Delhi, it was decided that a 28 per cent GST would be imposed on online gaming, horse racing, and casinos. The council clarified that there would be no differentiation between games of skill and games of chance for taxation purposes. Addressing concerns about the impact on India’s Esports and video gaming industry, Vinod Tiwari, President of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) and acting Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia, emphasised that the 28 per cent GST would solely apply to iGaming, which includes Real Money Gaming (RMG), fantasy sports, teen patti, rummy, and poker, all of which fall under the category of gambling or betting internationally. However, he stated categorically that this GST would not affect the ‘Video Games’ or the Esports industry.

Tiwari pointed out that Esports has been officially recognised as a sport by the Indian government, setting it apart from activities like iGaming, betting, RMG, and gambling. He highlighted the government’s recognition and the fact that Esports will continue to be taxed as it always has been, unaffected by the newly imposed GST.

He also stressed that the terms “game of skill” and “game of chance,” which are unique to India’s context, have no relevance in the Esports ecosystem. He called for the GST Council to use more specific terms such as “iGaming” or “online real money game,” as defined in the “The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules,” to avoid confusion.

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Tiwari emphasised that the primary purpose of the 400 million Indian video gamers (and approximately 3 billion gamers worldwide) is purely entertainment and not financial gains. He lamented that unjustifiable associations between Video Games or Esports Industry with iGaming and gambling create unnecessary confusion and misperceptions.

He also highlighted that video game publishers have strict policies against implementing entry fees for any Esports events organised using their video games, further distinguishing Esports from iGaming.

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Esports is gaining recognition as a mainstream sport, with its inclusion as a demonstration title in 2018 and its upcoming debut as an official medal sport at the 19th Asian Games, where India will participate in four titles — League of Legends, FIFA Online 4, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, and DOTA 2. Moreover, Esports has recently been designated as one of the medal sports in the 20th Asian Games Aichi-Nagoya 2026.

These developments underscore the significant progress made by Esports in cementing its position as a mainstream sport in the country.

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