Progressive Policy on Online Casinos and Betting Sites Could Help Budgetary Goals

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Job Creation and Reviving Investor Sentiment Among FM’s Top Aims 

Growth at the expense of fiscal consolidation is the main theme of the new FY 2023 Union Budget, as India is set on regaining the title of the fastest growing major economy in the world. Spending, according to the budget proposed by the Central Government Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman, is to be raised by approximately 14 per cent YoY (year-on-year) to ₹ 39.45 lakh crore. Heavy stress is placed on the funding of various infrastructure projects ranging from highways to affordable housing with the intention to boost the economy, create jobs, and revive investor sentiment.

Deficit is to be trimmed a little, but yet it is to remain above the 6 per cent threshold for a third consecutive year. Tax rate slabs are to remain unchanged and Centre’s strategy is to be financed by disinvestments of assets and near-record breaking borrowing amounting to roughly ₹ 13 lakh crore.

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Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), described the new Union Budget as a very “thoughtful” programme emphasizing on research, innovation, digitization and human capital development.

Capital expenditure is to leap up by 35 per cent to ₹ 7.5 lakh crore, customs duties are to be rationalized, and the timeframes for establishing new manufacturing firms are to be extended. Profits from sales of crypto assets are to be taxed at 30 per cent and a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), or “digital rupee”, is to be launched.

Futuristic Policy Making Shouldn’t Stop at Taxing Crypto

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Recognizing the existence of crypto through levying profits from sales of crypto assets with income tax is indeed a step to prepare India for the future, but the Union government should also strongly consider recognizing, regulating and setting up a national-level licensing regime for online betting and casino sites.

National regulation on online gambling and betting is the path chosen by an increasing number of mature economies, including the likes of Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, France and many others, in order to bring control over these booming sectors.

The adoption of the same approach by India would make all foreign and offshore casino and betting platforms that operate in the country get licensed locally and set up offices here, thus bringing investments in and creating jobs for Indians, in line with the Finance Minister’s aims.

Moreover, considering the estimated size of the existing nation’s sports betting market, with valuations by various organizations ranging from ₹ 3 lakh crore to ₹ 10 lakh crore, licensed and taxable online casinos, sports and cricket betting in India could turn into a true cash cow for the government, bringing in much needed revenues to lower fiscal deficit and help post-Covid recovery.

Also quite important is the potential of regulation and licensing to significantly lower the social costs connected to gambling and betting by imposing legal requirements for platforms to apply modern responsible gaming mechanisms. Such systems would actively shield consumers from gaming addictions and other forms of problem gambling, excessive financial losses, as well as from bad-willed and malpracticing operators.

Thus, progressive policy making over online casinos and betting sites would be a win-win move for all stakeholders, bringing foreign investments and creating jobs for local citizens, raising tax collection for the exchequer, and enhancing consumer protection at various levels.

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