The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) is holding a ‘consultative’ meeting on November 18 to discuss television (TV) advertisements around online gaming, according to a meeting notice reviewed by MediaNama. The ministry has confirmed that the meeting is taking place, and that it is regarding online gaming ads on TV, but refused to divulge any further details. 

As per the meeting notice, the ministry’s rationale for the meeting is that TV channels are broadcasting ads for online gaming platforms such as that of Mobile Premier League (MPL) pool winner, Naam11.com, and Dear Lottery, which possibly goes against existing advertising and consumer protection regulations.

The following people have been invited to attend the video meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon: 

  • Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) 
  • Rajat Sharma, President, News Broadcasters Association (NBA)
  • K. Madhavan, President, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) 
  • Ministry of Consumer Affairs 
  • All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) 
  • Federation of India Fantasy Sports (FIFS) 
  • The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) 

The ministry has also said that the individuals mentioned can nominate a representative to attend the meeting. AIGF, FIFS, and TORF have refused to comment. We have reached out to ASCI, IBF, and NBA for details and will update this once they respond

The AIGF is an industry body for online skill gaming in India, its members include the Mobile Premier League, Adda52.com, Paytm First Games, and 9Stacks. The FIFS calls itself a self-regulatory body for fantasy sports and counts Dream11, My11Circle, and MyTeam11 as members. In October this year, the Rajasthan High Court acknowledged the role FIFS plays in the fantasy sports industry. On the other hand, the TORF describes itself as a body “to guide and support the online rummy industry” and has RummyCircle.com, Ace2Three, and Mobile Premier League among its members.

The MIB notice says that such ads can be correlated to a provision of the advertising codes of the Cable Television Network Act, which prohibit ads that could mislead the public into believing that a product has miraculous or supernatural qualities. It also cites the ASCI’s self-regulatory code, which requires transparency around ads urging people to partake in lotteries or prize competitions. According to the notice, ASCI has said that it does not have the competence to decide whether “MPL is conducting gambling” and that it does not have the mandate, authority, or competence to decide whether or not a specific product is banned under the law. Instead, the concerned regulator should look into it, ASCI has said. 

Gaming has gained momentum only in the past few years and so the Cable TV Act or the ASCI’s codes do not refer to them, the ministry noted. “The possibility of advertisements being misleading can always be there for such activities,” it said. The ministry also cited the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which prohibits false or misleading ads.