On Monday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting requested that private TV broadcasters, digital news publishers, and OTT platforms cease from airing commercials for online betting sites and surrogate advertisements.
According to a new recommendation released by the government, users, especially young people and children, face serious financial and social hazards while utilizing such services.
Newspapers, private television networks, and digital news publishers were all given similar advice by the ministry on June 13th, asking them to not run adverts for online betting sites.
“It has been brought to the attention of the government that advertisements for offshore online betting platforms and their surrogate news websites have been airing on a number of televised and over-the-top (OTT) sports channels. Offshore gambling sites like Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet were promoted in both direct and indirect ways in the advisory documents.”
According to the ministry’s recommendation, certain offshore online gambling firms are passing off news websites as substitute products while advertising their services in digital media. The government has noticed that the logos of fake news websites are often very similar to those of gambling websites.
The ministry further said that neither the betting platforms nor the news websites are registered with any Indian regulatory body. Advertisements for gaming and betting are disguised as news articles on such sites.
The ministry issued advisories stating that while betting and gaming are outlawed throughout the country, and promotion of betting platforms or their substitutes is equally prohibited.
Consumer Protection Act of 2019, Cable Television Network Regulation Act of 1995, and Information Technology Rules of 2021 were cited in the advisory documents.
The Ministry of Information has warned TV stations and digital news publishers against airing commercials for betting platforms and websites that pose as legitimate news sources, stating that doing so is illegal and that violating this order could result in legal repercussions.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also urged online advertising intermediaries to refrain from directing such ads at Indian citizens.
Deposits on sites like Dafabet, Betway, Bet365, Parimatch, Fairplay, and 1xBet are reportedly between Rs750 crore and Rs 1,400 crore every month, as reported by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF).
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Roland Landers, CEO of the All India Gambling Federation (AIGF), praised the government for its “decisive step” in cracking down on illicit offshore gambling websites, which had been advertising in India under the guise of “surrogate news and sports websites.”
Since 2018, AIGF has been raising awareness of this problem, bringing it up with different federal agencies and giving proof of continuous advertising on key Indian SVOD and OTT platforms.
Landers have pledged to keep an eye on the situation and report any violations to authorities. “Our expectation is that unlike in the past, the TV networks, OTTs, and digital news publishers will heed this warning and stop giving these anti-national websites airtime in high-traffic areas of their platforms.
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In addition to protecting Indian consumers from illegal gambling sites, this will highlight the distinction between legal, skill-based online gaming companies that cater to Indian gamers and offer the greatest levels of player protection and fun.”
The advisories have been issued after extensive collaboration between the I&B ministry and the Department of Consumer Affairs.