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Why the I&B Ministry wants to stop TV, social media ads promoting online betting sites

The Ministry Information and Broadcasting has asked TV and social media to remove ads promoting online betting sites

On June 13th, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) issued an advisory directing print, electronic, and digital media organisations to refrain from carrying any advertisements for online betting websites , according to a press release from the ministry. In the advisory, the ministry also asked social and online media platforms to not carry or at least not show or target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.

Online gambling can be classified as gaming that is not dependent on skills of the player.

The advisory marks the latest effort from the government to tackle advertisements on online gambling and betting in India. While streaming the India-Australia ODI series in December 2020 and even the UEFA European Football Championship in June 2021, Sony LIV carried advertisements from international sports betting platforms Betway and Dafabet. Advertising betting websites is illegal in India.

According to the advisory, the ads promote sites which pose significant ‘financial and socio-economic risk for consumers, especially youth and children’, and are illegal in multiple States. Further, the ads were not in line with multiple government regulations too, the advisory notes.

“The advertisements of online betting are misleading, and do not appear to be in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995, and advertisement norms under the Norms of Journalistic Conduct laid down by the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act, 1978”, the advisory says.

Why it matters: Online gambling and betting are largely illegal in India. Only State governments can legislate on the same and most of them have outlawed it. However regulating access to such services has been a challenge, as State governments do not have the capability to block a particular app or website in their jurisdiction. In the press release, the MIB said that it is issuing the advisory noting several instances of such advertisements appearing in the media. It also appended the guidelines for real-money based gaming (which includes online gambling and betting) issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India, a self regulatory body for the industry, to the notice.

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What had the ASCI issued as guidelines on online gaming advertisements?

The following are the ASCI guidelines released in December 2020:

  • Gaming ads cannot depict anyone below 18 years or who appears to be below 18 years as playing a game of “online gaming for real money winnings” or suggest that such persons can play these games
  • Print or static ads need to display a disclaimer, occupying at least 20% of the ad, that the game involves financial risk and may be addictive, and that it should be played responsibly and at the player’s own risk. The disclaimer should be compliant with ASCI’s guidelines.
  • Such disclaimers will have to be announced in a normal speaking pace at the end of the ad and must be the same language as the ad.
  • Real-money gaming cannot be presented as an income opportunity or employment option. It should not be suggested that a person who plays real-money gaming is more successful than others who do not.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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