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Introduction: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, issued Advisory No. DM/15/2022-DM on August 25, 2023, addressing the proliferation of advertisements, including surrogate promotions, for online betting platforms. The advisory targets newspapers, television channels, digital media publishers, online advertisement intermediaries, and social media platforms, urging strict compliance with the ban.

Detailed Analysis:

1. Background and Previous Advisories: The advisory emphasizes the ministry’s consistent efforts to curb advertisements related to online betting platforms. It cites advisories from June 13, 2022, October 3, 2022, and April 6, 2023, illustrating the ongoing concern.

2. Illegality of Betting and Gambling Advertisements: The document underlines the illegal nature of betting and gambling activities, invoking statutes such as the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and the Press Council Act, 1978. The recent amendment to the Information Technology Rules, 2021, specifically addresses online gaming advertisements.

3. Government Action Against Money Laundering Networks: The advisory highlights recent government action against agents involved in collecting funds from users of gambling apps, emphasizing the risks associated with such platforms. It stresses the threat to financial security and the potential linkage to money laundering networks.

4. Media Entities Allowing Advertisements: Despite the legalities and risks, the advisory notes that certain media entities, including advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms, continue to broadcast advertisements for betting and gambling platforms. This breach is particularly noticeable during major sporting events, with a cricket tournament approaching.

5. Government Warning and Potential Action: Acting as the nodal Ministry for the media industry, the document warns all stakeholders, including media entities, online advertisement intermediaries, and social media platforms, to cease such advertisements immediately. Failure to comply may result in the government taking appropriate actions under various statutes.

Conclusion: The government’s advisory, No. DM/15/2022-DM, serves as a stern directive against the promotion of online betting platforms through advertisements. Emphasizing the legal implications and risks associated with such activities, the advisory urges immediate compliance from all stakeholders. The document serves as a crucial guideline to protect consumers, particularly the youth, and reinforces the government’s commitment to combatting illegal betting and gambling practices. Stakeholders are cautioned against the repercussions of non-compliance, underlining the seriousness of the issue and the government’s determination to enforce regulatory measures.

Also Read: CCPA Advisory: Ban on Illegal Gambling Advertisements

***

No. DM/15/2022-DM
Government of India
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
A Wing, Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi — 110 001

August 25, 2023

ADVISORY

To,

(i) Newspapers registered under Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867

(ii) Private Satellite Television Channels

(iii) Publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media

(iv) Online Advertisement Intermediaries

(v) Social Media Platforms

Subject: Advisory on Advertisements including Surrogate Advertisements of Online Betting Platforms- reg.

The Ministry has issued Advisories from time to time for television, print, and digital media, including social media platforms, to refrain from publishing, broadcasting advertisements of online betting platforms and/or any such product/service depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner. The online advertisement intermediaries have also been advised not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience. Advisories issued by the Ministry on 13.06.2022, 03.10.2022,and 06.04.2023 are enclosed for reference.

2. The above mentioned Advisories clearly mention that betting and gambling is an illegal activity and hence advertisements/promotion of such activities directly or indirectly on any of the media platforms falls foul of the various statutes, including under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, etc. Attention is also invited to the recently amended rule 3 (1) (b) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which provide that intermediaries shall make reasonable efforts by itself, and to cause the users of its computer resource to not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that “is in the nature of an online game that is not verified as a permissible online game; (x) is in the nature of advertisement or surrogate  advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game, or of any online gaming intermediary offering such an online game;”

3. It may be noted that recently, the Central Government has taken action against a network of agents who had collected substantial money from users of gambling apps and subsequently funneled the funds out of India. In this regard, it may be noted that advertisements of gambling/betting platforms not only pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children, but has linkages to money laundering networks, thereby threatening the financial security of the country.

4. Despite the above mentioned illegalities as well as the high chance of black money being used to pay for such advertisements. It has come to the notice that certain media entities, including advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms, have been allowing direct and indirect advertisements of betting and gambling platforms during major sporting events, including cricket tournaments. It is also observed that there is a tendency to spike promotion of such betting and gambling platforms during a major sporting event, especially cricket, and one such important international event is beginning in a few days from now.

5. As the nodal Ministry for the media industry in India, the Ministry advises all stakeholders, including the media entities, online advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms, to immediately refrain from showing such advertisements/promotional content in any form whatsoever, failing which the Government would be constrained to take appropriate action under the various statutes.

This issues with the approval of the Competent Authority.

Encl: as above.

(Kshitij Aggarwal)
Deputy Director (Digital Media)
Email: kshitij aggarwal@gov. in

Copy to:-

1. Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India

2. Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology

3. Secretary, Press Council of India

4. Self-Regulatory Bodies under Cable Television Network (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

5. Self-Regulatory Bodies under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

6. Online Advertisement Intermediaries

7. Secretary, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

8. Various associations of print media and electronic media

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