The central government has issued an advisory asking print, electronic and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting platforms. The guidelines have been issued in light of several instances where advertisements of online betting websites and platforms appear in print, electronic, social and online media.

“Betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country, and concerns have been expressed that advertisements of online betting promote an activity which is otherwise largely prohibited and poses significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children,” reads the advisory by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“Further, 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,” it further adds.

Considering these factors, and in “larger public interest”, the ministry has advised print and electronic media “to refrain from publishing advertisements of online betting platforms”. “The online and social media, including the online advertisement intermediaries and publishers, are advised not to display such advertisements in India or target such advertisements towards the Indian audience,” it states.

On December 4, 2020, the information and broadcasting ministry had issued an advisory to private satellite TV channels to adhere to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on advertisements of online gaming which contained specific do’s and don'ts for print and audio-visual advertisements of online gaming.

Prior to this, in a meeting with stakeholders, concerns were raised that online gaming advertisements appear to be misleading, do not convey to the consumers the financial and other risks associated thereof, and are not in strict conformity with the advertising code laid down under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

After the meeting, ASCI had issued detailed guidelines for gaming advertisements, as well as asked stakeholders to ensure that such adverts do not promote any activity prohibited by statute or law. Among the guidelines, the council had listed that no advertisement shall depict any person under the age of 18 years engaged in playing a game online for real money winnings.

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