Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday categorically termed online gaming “nothing but gambling”.
She also said on the issue of extending the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation from June 30, the views of some states were heard so far but nothing was decided.
Addressing the media at the conclusion of the two-day meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council here, Sitharaman said casinos, horse-racing, and online gaming are all gambling.
“Whether it is horse-racing or online gaming or casinos, the common thread that the Committee highlighted was they are part of betting and gaming.
“In other words, they are essentially gambling. There may be an element of skill in it or an element of chance in it. But essentially, all the three are gambling,” Sitharaman said.
She said the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, on betting, casinos, horse racing, online gaming which are taxed at 28 per cent, was in favour of status quo in this regard.
Sangma said the Goa Finance Minister had requested him to let him present his views on GST on casinos at the Council meeting and it agreed to hear again the issues of online gaming and others.
The GoM will submit its report on July 15 and it will be discussed at the next GST Council meeting to be held in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai, the home town of both Sitharaman and Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan.
Sitharaman also said that the GST Council also decided on the reports of three other GoMs.
She said the GST rate rationalisation GoM, headed by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, looked at the exemptions and the inverted tax structures, and the GST Council approved the revised rates whereby tax rates have been revised upwards on many items and reduced on some items.
Sitharaman said none of the Council members were against rate hikes.
The GoM on Information and Technology, headed by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in its report, recommended use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure better data and compliance issue.
The risk-based models will be developed for fresh registrations and the Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) will work on the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.
Queried about extending the GST compensation after June 30, Sitharaman said the views of some states were heard.
About 16 to 17 states are for extension of the period.