The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued two advisories to private television channels and digital news publishers and OTT (over-the-top) platforms prohibiting them from showing advertisements of online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites on the grounds that such ads posed a financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. Also Read - Technology should be used for good of society: Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra at IIT Hyderabad
The Ministry citing a previous advisory issued on June 13, 2022, said 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 such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet. The logos of these surrogate news websites bear striking resemblance to betting platforms. The Ministry said that “neither the betting platforms nor the news websites are registered under any legal authority in India. Such websites are promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising.” Also Read - Tech giants inability to moderate online content leaves Indian officials fuming
Ministry in its advisory also said that “since betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms as well as their surrogates are also illegal.”
“Betting and gambling is an illegal activity in most parts of India. 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,” the I&B Ministry wrote in its advisory.
“..it may be noted that in accordance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, advertisements of betting platforms, being an illegal activity, can not be shown on digital media,” the ministry wrote in the second advisory.
So, the Ministry of Information and Broadcast has asked OTT platforms, digital media websites and TV channels to refrain from promoting offline or online betting and gambling platforms and services through advertisements in larger public interest. “In light of the Ministry’s Advisory dated 13.06.2022 and the above, and having regard to the larger public interest involved, the online news websites and OTT platforms are strongly advised to refrain from broadcasting advertisements of online betting platforms and/or their surrogate news websites or any such product/service depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner,” the ministry added.