In view of the significant financial and socio-economic risk to consumers, especially youth and children, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday issued two notices – one for private TV channels and the other for digital news publishers and OTT platforms – strongly advising them to refrain from displaying ads from offshore online betting sites and surrogate ads for such sites.
The ministry had earlier issued a notification on June 13, 2022 advising newspapers, private TV channels and digital news publishers to refrain from publishing advertisements on online betting platforms. 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 for offshore online betting platforms as well as their surrogate news websites.
The advisories were supplemented with evidence, which included direct and surrogate ads for offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777 and 1xBet. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting noted in its advisory that promotional content and advertisements from betting platforms are still visible on certain digital news and OTT platforms. The Ministry has informed in Advisories 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 a striking resemblance to betting platforms.
“Furthermore, it has also been noticed that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise betting platforms on digital media,” the ministry said. The ministry’s notices stated that since betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements for these betting platforms as well as their surrogates are also illegal. Advisories relied on the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021.
Emphasizing that betting and gambling are illegal activities in most parts of India, the ministry said advertisements for offshore betting and gambling platforms are banned. Furthermore, the ministry has stated that neither the betting platforms nor the news websites are registered under any statutory authority in India. Such sites promote betting and gambling under the guise of news as surrogate advertising.
“In accordance with section 9 of the Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Approvals of Misleading Advertisements 2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it has been observed that since betting and gambling are illegal, advertisements for online offshore betting and gambling platforms are prohibited. . In this regard, it may be noted that in accordance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics) Rules 2021, advertisements for betting platforms, which is an illegal activity, cannot be displayed on digital media,” it said. The ministry said that with regard to the advertisements of the surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms, it may be mentioned that the logos of the news websites in question are strikingly similar to the betting platform.
“The affected betting platforms and the corresponding news websites are also not registered with any legal authority under Indian law. Therefore, it appears that online offshore betting platforms are promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising. In this regard, the Department of Consumer Affairs have also informed that online betting platforms have advertised themselves as professional sports blogs, sports news websites, etc., while providing an indicative list of online betting platforms that use news for surrogate advertising,” the ministry said in a statement. . The ministry asked the online news websites and OTT platforms to refrain from airing advertisements of online betting platforms and/or their surrogate news websites or such products/services depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner.
It has now come to the notice of this ministry that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as surrogate products to advertise their betting platforms on TV channels. In a separate advisory to private satellite TV channels, the ministry said some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise their betting platforms on TV channels.
“In this regard, it may be noted that in accordance with the Advertising Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, advertisements for betting platforms, which is an illegal activity, cannot be shown 3. on television channels,” it added.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting worked in close coordination with the Department of Consumer Affairs, which provided an indicative list of online betting platforms that used news for surrogate advertising, informing that online betting platforms have advertised themselves in a surrogate manner such as professional sports blogs, sports news websites etc. The Ministry has stated that such advertisements are not in compliance with various related laws and has strongly discouraged TV channels as well as digital news publishers from airing such betting platforms or their proxy news websites, reminding the TV channels that the violation may invite criminal proceedings. The ministry has also advised online advertising intermediaries not to target such ads to Indian audiences.
The ministry has mentioned that betting and gambling pose significant financial and socio-economic risks for consumers, especially young people and children. Therefore, promotion of offline or online betting/gaming through advertisements is not advisable in the wider public interest.