The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday issued two advisories, one for private television channels and the other for digital news publishers and OTT platforms strongly advising them to refrain from showing advertisements of online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites.
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 of online betting platforms.
The advisory states that it has come to ministry's notice that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise their betting platforms on TV channels. The government has asked the private satellite television channels to refrain from broadcasting advertisements of online offshore betting platforms and/or their surrogate new s websites or any such product/service depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner.
Contravention/violation of the above may invite penal action under the applicable laws.
Some of the platforms ads flagged by the government include FairPlay News, 1XBAT, FUNBB.NET, Betwaynet, and Wolf111 News.
The government highlighted that betting and gambling is prohibited in most parts of the country, and pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children.
“Accordingly, the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in larger public interest,” the advisory notes.
In accordance with the Paragraph 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it has been observed that since betting and gambling is illegal, advertisements of online offshore betting and gambling platforms are also illegal.
“In this regard, it may be noted that in accordance with the Advertising Code under Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, advertisements of betting platforms, being an illegal activity, cannot be shown on TV channels,” it says.
The government also notes that the logos of surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms are strikingly similar to the betting platform. The concerned betting platforms, and the corresponding news websites, are also not registered with any legal authority under Indian laws. Accordingly, the online offshore betting platforms appear to be promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising which needs to be curbed.
The advisory further states that the Department of Consumer Affairs has also informed that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs, sports news websites, etc. while providing an indicative list of online betting platforms which are using news for surrogate advertising.