Horse-racing clubs in India has for the past few months been worried about the implications of the new Goods and Services Tax (GST). GST, touted to be the largest indirect tax reform in India since independence, will subsume all indirect taxes. Taxes on skill gaming, gambling, betting, casinos, lotteries etc. will be part of GST, once it is implemented from next financial year.
With some reports indicating that bets placed on licensed race-courses and others forms of gambling and betting will be placed under the demerit or sin category and charged around 40% GST rate (the betting tax rate in Mumbai and Pune race courses is 30% while in other race courses the betting tax rate is much lower), there were concerns that the race courses would be forced to shut shop, as betting would no longer be feasible.
The Turf Authorities of India (TAI) therefore approached Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to apprise him of the horse-racing industry’s demands. As per a column in Mumbai Mirror, Royal Western India Turf Club’s chairman Vivek Jain led the delegation to meet Jaitley.
The report further states:
According to Jain, the finance minister gave the delegation a brief but intent hearing. Among other issues, Jain highlighted the problems faced by the horse-racing industry post demonetisation and impressed upon him that, in this time of crisis, the sport needs a friendly approach both from the Centre and the State government.
In a significant move — with the objective of a national unified tax-rate in mind — Jain requested Jaitley for a favourable consideration if and when GST comes into play between April and September, which could possibly pave the way for an all-India totalizator regime.
The report also adds that Jaitley intently heard Jain and other members of the delegation but did not give any commitment on the GST rates for horse-race betting. However unnamed experts in the report indicate that gambling and betting will be in the demerit or sin category under GST and consequently around 40% tax rate will be imposed. A decision has not yet been taken whether race-courses and betting thereof will be kept in the same category.