Union Budget 2024: Government support and tax relief key for Indian esports industry’s growth

Union Budget 2024: Government support and tax relief key for Indian esports industry’s growth

The esports community eyes government support for a thriving ecosystem in India's upcoming budget.

Lokesh Suji,Rohit Agarwal and Animesh Agarwal

Mumbai: Since the Indian government’s official recognition of Esports as a multi-sport event, the industry has witnessed substantial growth as a new-age sport. The sector's journey to mainstream recognition reached new heights with its inclusion as an official medal sport in the Asian Games 2022 and its potential entry into the Olympics.

With finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman set to present the interim Budget for fiscal 2024-25 in the Lok Sabha on 1 February, the Esports community is optimistic about the prospects of government support.

Esports Federation of India director & Asian Esports Federation (AESF) VP Lokesh Suji noted, “We hope to see a dedicated allocation of funds for the Esports sector, alongside incentives for Indian video game development studios. This will not only encourage innovation but also enable homegrown titles to prosper within the community. To ensure the long-term success of our Esports athletes and attract more aspiring players to pursue careers in Esports, we also hope for tax relief for athletes on winnings from Esports tournaments. ESFI will remain committed to working closely with the government to further elevate the status of Esports in the country.”

According to the "Leveling up: State of India Gaming FY’23" report by Lumikai in collaboration with Google, the Indian gaming industry clocked $3.1 Bn in FY23 and is set to hit $7.5 Bn by FY28.

“The Esports industry is growing at an impressive percentage and is only forecasted to grow. We hope for fair support and conducive policies from the government in the upcoming budget to further foster this growth,” said 8Bit Creatives founder & CEO and S8UL co-founder Animesh Agarwal.

Recognizing the industry's potential, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala are actively engaging with Esports by organizing tournaments, establishing Esports academies, and partnering with the sector’s organizations or publishers.

Highlighting how the involvement of state governments can be leveraged to enable the development of the video gaming community, Gods Reign CEO K R Rohith commented, “We hope for the government's consideration and support in encouraging educational programs by adding Esports into Educational Curriculums and skill development initiatives focused on gaming and Esports. This would contribute significantly to nurturing talent within the sector, aligning with the national agenda of promoting digital skills. In addition, we earnestly suggest the allocation of funds to each state government for the organization and promotion of State Esports Championships. This collaborative effort with prominent esports organisations at the state level, starting from the school level to the national level, will undoubtedly contribute to the organic growth of esports across the nation.”

Furthermore, there is also a call to reduce the GST on esports activities from 28 per cent to 18 per cent and introduction of regulations.

“From budget 2024, one of the major steps I look forward to is more ‘Esports’ based activities moving to 18 per cent slab (from 28 per cent slab). Apart from this, I’m also looking forward to the government encouraging more state governments to assign budgets for the growth and promotion of Esports (similar to Bihar). Lastly, more regulations in terms of in-game and tournament winnings are expected to come in,” emphasised  Alpha Zegus founder & director Rohit Agarwal.

With all eyes on the upcoming budget, the esports community is hopeful that government support will pave the way for a sustainable and thriving esports ecosystem in India.