gst on online gaming: Transition to regulated environment painful for online gaming sector: Dream Sports CEO

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The transition from an unregulated to a regulated environment has caused a lot of pain for the online gaming industry in India, said Harsh Jain, cofounder and CEO of Dream Sports, which operates online fantasy gaming platform Dream11.

He was speaking at a panel discussion at the Mumbai Tech Week on Monday.

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“India as a tech nation is catching up and I think there is a lot of nascency in many sectors which are unregulated where we are disrupting things. But once it becomes large enough, then the government steps in to regulate them and that is painful. I’m not hiding behind the fact that as an unregulated disruptor, we can grow faster. But I think it’s great that the government is stepping in because they come at a time when too many people are doing too many things in the name of disruption,” Jain said.

His comments come in the backdrop of the GST Council’s decision to levy 28% goods and service tax (GST) from October 1, 2023, on online real money gaming companies on the full face value of bets.

After the implementation of the new GST regime for online real money games Dream11 — India’s largest fantasy sports platform by revenue — had projected a significant worsening of its financial performance and cut its profit target for FY24 by 80%.

Also read | Dream11 posts higher profit, revenue; auditor flags risk from GST demand

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Discussing the online gaming landscape in India, Jain said Dream Sports achieved significant growth, attracting 55 million new users in the past year. He anticipates that the number of gamers in India will surge to 500-600 million in the coming years, with 72% of his platform’s users hailing from beyond the top 100 cities in India.Jain said they are fighting the retrospective tax demands on the industry and once it gets resolved, there would be a lot of headroom for the gaming industry. The company intends to go public in India once the retrospective tax issues are resolved, he added.

Tiger Global-backed Dream11 has contested the Centre’s GST demand for past years. Dream11 faces a tax demand for more than Rs 28,000 crore from the GST authorities.

In September, ET reported that the Directorate General of GST Intelligence had issued notices worth Rs 55,000 crore to Dream11, Games 24×7 and Head Digital Works.

On January 19, Dream11 reported a 32% increase in net profit and a 66% jump in operating revenue for fiscal 2023.

As a part of its regulatory filings, the company’s auditor noted that the demand over past dues “may cast significant doubt on (the) group’s ability to continue as a going concern”. In accounting terminology, a ‘going concern’ is an entity which has sufficient resources available to continue making money and avoid the risk of bankruptcy in the foreseeable future.

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