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GST implications on Acknowledgment fee in Dream 11 Game – Does it really gambling and Betting site?

Gurdip Singh Sachar, an advocate, recently filed criminal public interest litigation (PIL) against the Dream 11 Fantasy Pvt Ltd. Ground of PIL is to to pay GST on the entire acknowledgement amount (i.e. amount at stake).

What is Dream11 Game?

Dream11 is an online fantasy game in which players can create virtual sports teams, having players as same in real life cricket teams and the winners are decided based on points scored.

The user has to select players from both the competing teams between whom the real life match is being played. The competent/ opposite team also creates his team and selects the match players to play the game.

What are the amounts charged by Dream11?

Before initiating the game, an acknowledgement amount (i.e. the amount at stake) is paid by the player (i.e. user), which is kept in an escrow account and later on distributed as price money upon conclusion of game.

The players/users are required to pay a platform fee against which a GST tax invoice is issued by Dream11 and discharges GST liability. 

Relevant facts:

The petitioner contended that the activities of Dream 11 amounts to gambling/ betting and consequently, the Company should be liable to pay GST on the entire acknowledgement amount (i.e. amount at stake) as prescribed under specific rules [Rule 31A(3) of CGST Rules, 2018] for betting/ gambling under GST.

The Bombay High court judges clarify that such fantasy games/ contests are merely game of chance. Further held that the result of the contest offered by Dream11 is not at all dependent on winning or losing of any particular team in the real world game.

Success in Dream11’s fantasy sports depends upon user’s skill based on knowledge, judgment and attention. Hence, it is not a gambling or betting game.

Conclusion:

  • Dream11 is correct in charging GST at 18% on the platform fee. 
  • The acknowledgement amount would qualify as an actionable claim, which is neither considered as supply of goods nor services under GST [Schedule III of CGST Act]. Hence, No GST will be applicable.
  • The PIL has been dismissed by Mumbai High Court.

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