A group of 3.7k strong poker players in India have successfully boycotted Adda52’s Sunday majors in a show of discontent over outdated taxation policies.
Growing up in a household where the only interest in the budget was how much the Chancellor of the Exchequer would raise the price on cigarettes and alcohol, tax policy in India is an unfamiliar topic.
In the summer, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitheraman delivered her first budget since taking power. Promising to turn India into a thriving $5 trillion economy by 2024/25 one of her first moves was to increase the surcharge on the super-rich. Hikes saw taxation at 10% on total income between 5m rupees and 10m, and 15% on income above 10m change to 25% between 20 + 50m rupees, and 37% on 50m+ rupees per year.
One tributary into Sitheraman’s purse is online poker, and this week, that route has raised a few eyebrows in the Indian poker community. Seven years ago, Adda52 emerged from online poker’s womb, and in that time, their taxation policy has remained unaltered. It’s a decision that’s recently fallen under the light of the lantern held by India’s online poker community.
Raghav Bansal is one of India’s most prolific and well-known poker pros. Bansal finished in the money (ITM) in five World Series of Poker (WSOP) events in the summer, including finishing 3/2403 in the $600 Mixed No-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha DeepStack 8-Handed event for $88,410. His biggest score came in 2017 when he came runner-up to Sosia Jiang in the 180-entrant HKD 103,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller at the PokerStars Championship Macau for $335,910. He has earned more than $1m playing live tournament earnings.
Bansal is also a member of the closed Facebook group The Players Group (TPG). It’s a 3,762 member strong group, and it’s on this forum that Bansal recently called for a boycott on Adda52 in reaction to their immovability on Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) policy.
Adda52 fail to move with the times
According to an article in PokerGuru, Bansal became increasingly frustrated at Adda52’s failure to step out of the revolving door of TDS policy and join the industry norm of establishing ways of keeping more tax money in the poker ecosystem.
When playing in a multi-table tournament (MTT) on Adda52, the online poker room sends 32% of the total prizepool down the trapdoor, and into a chute heading straight to Sitheraman’s coffers.
Writing on TPG, Bansal stated:
“For some perspective, last year;
The biggest crushers paid about 40% in TDS
The high-volume medium winners paid 50-80% in TDS
The slightly winning players lost money net due to TDS so paid more than 100% TDS effectively.”
In contrast, PokerDangal allows players to withdraw ₹30,000 per day without TDS (USD 421), and PokerBaazi only deducts TDS on net winnings.
Adda52 has 1.9m users, and PokerScout pins it as the largest online poker room in the country.
Fed up with Adda52’s immobility, Bansal called his bannermen to boycott two Adda52 Sunday majors on August 11. Players voted with their feet steering clear of The Big Slick and Mega Suits. While the slight dip in attendance (and overlays) was unlikely to create stale sweat, the move has attracted the attention of the Adda52 bigwigs.
Adda52 Ambassador, Kunal Patni, told the TPG that his higher-ups were aware of the upset. The right people organised an urgent meeting with tax specialists to seek a resolution. Patni extended an invite to the TPG, but according to PokerGuru, nobody turned up.
Although nobody from the TPG attended the meeting, their demands did end up on the agenda.
Taken from PokerGuru.
1. We wanted to take our own tax consultants to the meeting, but they were not comfortable with the idea at this point — they said maybe in the next meeting they plan, something like this can be considered
2. We have proposed that if Adda52 must adhere to the same tax policy, they should bear the burden of extra tax paid by the players. They, hopefully, will get back to us regarding this.
3. TPG (The Players Group on Facebook) has a clear stance for Adda’s tax policy — it is extremely bad for the poker economy, and while this policy remains unchanged, TPG shall be discouraging players from playing tournaments on Adda52. Adda won’t be able to advertise on TPG anymore.
4. We want to know why there is a difference in their tax policy for MTTs vs. cash games. Why can they not have a closed wallet for MTTs where players are only given chips in their wallets at the time of winning and pay tax only at the time of cashouts. If this system works for cash games, there is no reason why it wouldn’t work for tournaments.”
During the boycott, PokerStars India’s Sunday Special Progressive KO saw the highest turnout to date. PokerBaazi’s BSS SuperStack saw a marginal increase in attendance during the sit-outs.
The furore continues, although considering the relaxation of TDS policy on other sites, Adda52 would need Krusty the Clown in charge not to react in a positive light to Bansal and his battleships.