SBC News India media authority issues new warning on gambling advertising

India media authority issues new warning on gambling advertising

India’s TV broadcasters, media and OTT platforms have been warned to stop promoting online gambling advertisements by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). 

The Ministry – which serves as the Indian government’s central agency responsible for the formulation/administration of rules, regulations and standards on IT, broadcast and media – is reported to have issued “two advisories” to TV broadcasters and media owners.

MIB warned incumbents “to refrain from showing advertisements, including surrogate ads, of online betting sites, branding them a significant financial and socio-economic risk for consumers”.

In June, private TV networks and newspaper publishers were ordered to cease publishing advertisements for online betting platforms, as MIB cited that continued violation of its warning would lead to “penal action under applicable laws”.

“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,” read MIB’s statement.

“The advisories were supplemented with evidence, which contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777 and 1xBet.”

TV broadcasters and media owners were reminded that sports betting and gambling remain illegal across India and its federal union of 28 autonomous states.

As it stands, India maintains one federal law on gambling – ‘The Public Gambling Act of 1867’ – that prohibits the running of a public gambling house.

The MIB issued its warning under the federal provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995 and the IT Rules, 2021.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a media trade body and voluntary standards organisation, supported MIB’s advisories on gambling advertising.

ASIC President Manisha Kapoor said betting and its advertising remain restricted by law and, therefore, the current advisories reinforce that “ASCI has clear guidelines for legitimate brand extensions allowed by law”.

“However, when the product category itself is outlawed in parts of India, the government must rightly step in,” he said. “Given that cricket is watched by a wide audience including children it is disappointing to see such ads continue. We hope the current advisories act as deterrents as clear penal action has been indicated.”

 

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