India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday issued an advisory to media platforms, asking them to refrain from accepting advertisements that promote online betting. "Betting and gambling, illegal in most parts of the country, pose a significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children," stated the advisory to print, electronic and digital media.
The ministry said the advisory has been issued in the larger public interest and comes in the light of instances of a number of advertisements of online betting websites/platforms appearing in print, electronic, social, and online media, as reported by the Business Standard.
In addition to advising print and electronic media to refrain from publishing such ads, the ministry has also advised online and social media, including online advertisement intermediaries and publishers. They have been urged to not display such advertisements in India or target them towards the Indian audience.
In its advisory, the ministry noted that advertisements for online betting are "misleading" and they 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.
No ads promoting online betting, @MIB_India issues advisory to media— PIB India (@PIB_India) June 13, 2022
Online betting ads on online and social media not to target Indian audience
‘Betting poses significant financial, socio-economic risk for consumers’
The ministry said it had issued an advisory to private satellite TV channels on December 4, 2020, asking them to adhere to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on advertisements of online gaming, reports Economic Times. These contained "specific Do's and Don't for static/print and audio-visual advertisements of online gaming."
The ASCI guidelines, which came into effect on December 15, 2020, stipulated that no gaming advertisement would depict any person under the age of 18 years, or the person who appears to be under the age of 18, playing a game of "online gaming for real money winnings," or suggest that such persons can play these games.
"The advertisements should not present 'online gaming for real money winnings' as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option," the guidelines said, adding, "The advertisement should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others."
The ASCI guidelines also provided that every such "gaming advertisement" must carry a disclaimer which in the case of print media should read as "this game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk." Such a disclaimer should occupy no less than 20 percent of the space in the advertisement, the ASCI guidelines noted.
In the case of the gaming advertisements in audio-video format, according to the ASCI guidelines, the disclaimer should be run as "this game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk."
"For audio-visual mediums, the disclaimer needs to be in both audio and visual formats. Such a disclaimer must be placed at a normal speaking pace at the end of the advertisement. It must be in the same language as the advertisement," the guidelines added.
The advisory is expected to adversely affect fantasy sports companies, which have been accused of promoting online betting. The industry, which is estimated to be the size of around $4.5 billion, has long been demanding the government come out with a clear, singular policy that regulates them.
According to a report by consultant Deloitte and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the industry is expected to grow to Rs 1.65 lakh crore ($21 billion) by 2025, on the back of a 38 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), as reported by MoneyControl News.