Defaulters could face rigorous scrutiny

India: Celebrities should refrain from advertising offshore gambling, warns Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Anurag Thakur, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, India
Reading time 1:17 min

In its latest advisory, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has directed celebrities and influencers to refrain from advertising offshore online gambling operators on social media, noting they could face penal action for doing so.

The ministry explained that those with influence in the country are prohibited from advertising illegal gambling operators in a surrogate manner, and stated that they could face "rigorous scrutiny" if they decide to do it anyway.

The advisory stated: “Based on the above provisions of law, and the significant financial and socio-economic implications of online betting and gambling on consumers, particularly the youth, the Ministry hereby strongly advises all endorsers and influencers on social media to refrain from showing such promotional content/advertisements, including surrogate advertisements, of offshore online betting and gambling platforms in any form whatsoever. 

“While the online advertisement intermediaries are advised not to target such content towards Indian audience, the social media intermediaries are advised to conduct sensitization efforts among their users to refrain from publishing such content.”

The Indian government can issue notifications to intermediaries such as social media platforms to remove access to posts advertising illegal operators under the current framework. 

Additionally, celebrities and influencers could face proceedings under the 2019 Consumer Protection Act, which could in turn lead to social media accounts being disabled, while further penal action can also be administered under applicable statutes.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has also recently released an advisory against celebrity advertising, passed earlier this month. This came amid a significant increase in influencer marketing of illegal gambling. 

In addition to advisories, various warnings have been issued to social media platforms against the promotion of betting platforms in India. Under the Public Gambling Act of 1867, non-skill-based gambling is still illegal in the majority of regions in the country.

The CCPA noted that those with influence marketing gambling give the impression that betting is acceptable, even if it is illegal. This, according to the authority, makes celebrities “equally liable” for the offense.

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