The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday issued an advisory to print, electronic and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting and gambling platforms. As per the ministry, the advisory comes in light of instances of a number of advertisements of online betting websites/platforms appearing in print, electronic, social and online media. For Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), the advisory will bring about clarification between betting and gambling games and skill-based games. “We have been consistent to bring to the notice of the MIB the menace of offshore gambling companies such as 1XBet, fairplay fantasy, among others, advertising. Just to clarify that most of the gaming companies in India have fought and won in court that fantasy games and pay-to-play games (real money gaming) are skill-based games. Hence, they don’t fall under the advisory,” he told BrandWagon Online.
Currently, most of the gaming companies from Esports to fantasy gaming companies and hypercasual gaming companies, along with card-based games, have been pronounced as skill-based games rather than betting and gambling by both the State’s high court and Supreme Court. For industry experts, the advisory is for betting games and not skill based ones. “The big spenders are still skill based companies when it comes to different mediums. And while it might impact the whole psyche of advertisers considering this advisory is for betting and gambling companies, it will not impact skill-based games,” a senior industry analyst stated on condition of anonymity.
Furthermore, experts believe that the advisory will not have a direct impact on broadcasters or publishers as most of the advertisers are skill-based. “As agencies, we are already careful when it comes to betting platforms. The clients that we deal with have converted into skill based games themselves. The government’s measure is directed towards anyone making an attempt to promote online gambling and betting and not skill-based games,” Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, elaborated.
According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, betting and gambling which is illegal in most parts of the country, pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children, the advisory states. It has further added that these advertisements on online betting have the effect of promoting this largely prohibited activity. “The advertisements of online betting are misleading, and 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”, the Ministry elaborated.