Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on Monday issued two advisories, one for private television channels and the other for digital news publishers and over-the-top (OTT) platforms asking them to refrain from showing advertisements of online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites. According to the Ministry, it had earlier issued an advisory on June 13, 2022, advising newspapers, private TV channels and digital news publishers to refrain from publishing advertisements of online betting platforms.
The ministry states that it had come to the notice of the government that several sports channels on television, as well as on OTT platforms, have recently been showing advertisements of offshore online betting platforms as well as their surrogate news websites. The advisories were supplemented with evidence which contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet. Within the advisory, the ministry has informed that online offshore betting platforms are now using news websites as a surrogate product 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, the ministry has stated that neither the betting platforms nor the news websites are registered under any legal authority in India. The ministry said that such websites are promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising.
The advisories issued by the ministry stated 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. The advisories relied upon the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021. “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 to not target such advertisements toward Indian audiences,” the ministry said.
Additionally, MIB mentioned that betting and gambling pose significant financial and socio-economic risks for consumers, especially among the youth and children. Accordingly, it states that the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in the larger public interest. The MIB has worked in close coordination with the Department of Consumer Affairs on the issue of the two advisories.