For the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), already reeling under a near-bankruptcy situation, the 28 per cent GST seemed like the straw that would break the horse's back. Now, it turns out, the club has never been on better turf.

New interpretation of GST
Vivek Jain, chairman of RWITC, had painted a very grim picture of the GST to his colleagues in Mumbai, and to all the chairmen of the Turf Authority of India (TAI), the apex body of Indian turf clubs. However, most of them did not agree with Jain's view, and sought legal opinion from at least a dozen top lawyers from across the country. Interestingly, all, with one exception, held that the GST would not be applicable on all of betting, but only on the commission from betting.

Relief for punters
Not wanting to waste a minute to capitalise on the new interpretation of the GST, the RWITC committee held a meeting at Mahalaxmi Racecourse on Thursday evening and unanimously decided to offer relief to the punting community by bringing down the 57% deductions in pools to 32%. The body also declared that there will be zero betting tax on the club-operated fixed odds betting facility. Khushroo Dhunjibhoy, committee member, said, "We have reason to hope we are on good turf; these are all eminent lawyers, and the turf authorities have decided to follow their advice."

Some of the lawyers consulted were S S Gupta, Bhavna Doshi and Mr Dattar of the Supreme Court. Chairman Jain, whose interpretation was overruled, did not file a dissent note. He told this paper, "RWITC's consultants have advised us to take a conservative view. Having said that, in the interest of uniformity, we should go along with the view of TAI."

Reduced deduction in pools