Mumbai : The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ( MIB) has advised digital media publishers, OTT platforms and private TV channels 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 has observed that promotional content and advertisements of betting platforms are still visible on certain news platforms and OTT platforms.
The online advertisement intermediaries have also been advised not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.
The circular said ,"The advisory had been issued for the reason that betting and gambling is prohibited in most parts of the country, and pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. Accordingly, the promotion of offline or online betting/gambling through advertisements is not advised in larger public interest."
The ministry also observed that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise betting platforms on digital media.
"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 prohibited," the note said.
The ministry reminded that according to 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.
"In respect of the advertisements of the surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms, it may be mentioned that the logos of the concerned news websites are strikingly similar to the betting platform", the note said.
The concerned betting platforms and the corresponding news websites are also not registered with any legal authority under Indian laws. "Accordingly. the online offshore betting platforms appear to be promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news as surrogate advertising."
The Department of Consumer Affairs has also informed that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs, sports news websites, etc. while providing an indicative list of online betting platforms which are using news for surrogate advertising.
"The provisions of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 read with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, it is informed that advertisements of concerned news websites, which are infact surrogate advertisements for online offshore betting platforms, do not appear to
be in strict conformity with these laws," the ministry said.