Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued two Advisories, one for private television channels and the other for digital news publishers and OTT platforms, strongly advising them to refrain from broadcasting advertisements of online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites.
The Advisories came in light of the significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. The Ministry had earlier issued an Advisory on 13 June 2022, advising newspapers, private TV channels, and digital news publishers to refrain from publishing advertisements on online betting platforms.
The Government noticed that several sports channels on television, as well as on OTT platforms, have been showing advertisements for offshore online betting platforms as well as their surrogate news websites. The Advisories were accompanied by evidence that contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet.
The Ministry has informed that online offshore betting platforms are now using news websites as a surrogate products to advertise the betting platforms on digital media.
In such cases, the Ministry has found that the logos of surrogate news websites bear striking resemblance to betting platforms. Moreover, neither the betting platforms nor the news websites are registered under any legal authority in India. Such websites are promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising.
The Advisories relied upon the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, and the IT Rules, 2021. The Ministry has stated that such advertisements are not in conformity with various related laws and has strongly advised TV channels as well as digital news publishers from broadcasting such betting platforms or their surrogate news websites, reminding TV channels that violation may invite penal action.
The Ministry has also advised online advertisement intermediaries not to target such advertisements toward the Indian audience.
The Ministry stated that betting and gambling pose significant financial and socio-economic risks for consumers, especially youth and children. Accordingly, the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in the larger public interest.
The Advisories issued by the Ministry informed that since betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms, as well as their surrogates, are also illegal.
Therefore, the Ministry has taken the step to strongly advise private television channels and digital news publishers, and OTT platforms to refrain from broadcasting such advertisements. The Ministry has also reminded the intermediaries of online advertisements to not target the Indian audience with such advertisements.
In conclusion, the Advisories issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting aim to protect the interests of consumers, especially youth and children, from the significant financial and socio-economic risks posed by betting and gambling. The Ministry has also taken a firm stand on the legality of advertisements of such platforms and surrogates, warning TV channels and digital news publishers that violation may invite penal action.
By taking such steps, the Ministry aims to promote public interest and ensure that the Indian audience is not exposed to illegal activities through advertising.
Betting and gambling are illegal activities in most parts of India, and according to the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, advertisements of online offshore betting and gambling platforms are also illegal.
The Advertising Code under Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 prohibits advertisements of illegal activities like betting platforms on TV channels. The Ministry strongly advises private satellite television channels to refrain from broadcasting advertisements of online offshore betting platforms and their surrogate news websites or any product/service depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner. Violation of this advisory may invite penal action under applicable laws.