In the recently-conducted 50th meet of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council in New Delhi, it was announced that 28% GST will be levied on the full value of online gaming, horse racing and casinos. Furthermore, the GST Council agreed that there should be no distinction between a “game of skill” and a “game of chance”.
In April earlier this year, the Government of India made amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to lay out a comprehensive framework for the Online Gaming Ecosystem.
Vinod Tiwari, President of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) and Acting Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia, said:
“It is imperative to first understand that the 28% GST is going to be applicable to the iGaming sector, including Real Money Gaming (RMG), fantasy sports, teen patti, rummy, and poker which are categorised under gambling or betting in the rest of the world. Contrary to some media reports, this GST is neither applicable nor will it have any impact on the ‘Video Games’ or the Esports industry.
“Esports has been officially recognised as a sport by the government which finally and thankfully distinguishes it from any and all activities like iGaming such as fantasy, teen patti, rummy, poker, betting, and gambling, among others. It will carry on to be taxed the way it always has been. Theories of ‘game of skill’ and ‘game of chance’ which only exist in our country neither apply nor are relevant in the Esports ecosystem.
“We must acknowledge the TRUTH that the primary objective of the 400 million Indian video gamers (and approximately 3 billion gamers worldwide) is ‘purely entertainment’, and not financial gains or making money. It is regrettable that in India, our Video Games or Esports Industry is often unjustifiably associated with iGaming, betting, RMG, gambling, and many more, which creates unnecessary confusion and misperceptions.“
Additionally, it is crucial to highlight that video game publishers have strict policies against implementing entry fees for any esports events organised using their video games, further separating it from iGaming.
Having been included as a demonstration title in 2018, esports is also going to make its full-fledged debut as an official medal sport at the 19th Asian Games, where India will be participating in four titles — League of Legends, FIFA Online 4, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and Dota 2.
Moreover, esports has recently been officially designated as one of the medal sports at the 20th Asian Games Aichi-Nagoya 2026.