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Indian advertisers advised to uphold standards on betting content by media Ministry

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued advice to the country’s media networks and platforms, instructing outlets to avoid advertising online sports betting providers. 

The Ministry explained that its attention had been brought to betting and igaming adverts being placed across print, electronic, social and online media. 

The Indian government lacks a constitutional framework to regulate any form of gambling, due to most laws surrounding the industry having been created before the launch of web-based betting in the country.

With no constitutional oversight, gambling laws have become subject to individual interpretation of India’s 26 states, of which there is one unified law of the 1867 Public Gambling Act that prohibits running or being in charge of a ‘public gambling house’. 

As stands, online gambling has become a legal grey area – although different Indian states have clamped down on the vertical there is still no federal regulation to govern online gambling activities, disputes or criminal prosecutions.   

The ministry stated that this, coupled with an outright ban on more traditional forms of land-based gambling, means that some media outlets have been promoting an industry which is ‘otherwise largely prohibited and poses significant financial and socio-economic risk’.

Additionally, authorities also accused betting adverts of being ‘misleading’ and failing to meet the requirements of established media, journalistic and broadcasting regulations. 

Legislation cited by the Ministry include the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995 Norms of Journalistic Conduct set out in the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act 1978.

Signing off the Ministry’s statement to Broadcasters, Assistant Director (Digital Media) Kshitij Aggarwal concluded: “Print and electronic media is advised 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.”

An advisory had previously been issued in December 2020 towards private satellite TV channels, encouraging adherence to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on betting promotion.