Centre clamps down on TV & OTT platforms over betting ads

10 Oct 2022

Two new advisories against betting ads issued by the I&B

Two new advisories have been issued just a few months after The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) issued an advisory for all printed, electronic, and digital media to stop betting ads.

This time, the Centre asks that news websites, OTT platforms, and TV channels refrain from showing ads that market offshore betting sites.

The advisories were issued after it had become known that several sports channels on TV and OTT (Over The Top) platforms have been showing betting advertisements.

Offshore operators using surrogate news websites

FairPlay, PariMatch, Wolf 777, 1xBet, and Betway are some of the offshore betting operators identified within these ads, some of which utilize “surrogate” news websites to advertise games, odds, and promotions.

These “surrogate news websites” publish reliable and seemingly unbiased news and updates from the betting world but are actually owned by the betting operators themselves, allowing them to advertise their own products through a news format.

Betting advertisements illegal, the Ministry states

The motivation behind these advisories is stated by the Ministry; since gambling and betting is illegal in most parts of India, advertisements of platforms offering such services, as well as their surrogate websites, are also to be considered illegal.

It’s also mentioned by the Ministry that gambling and betting pose significant financial and socio-economic risks for consumers, youth, and children.

The Ministry expands on this, saying that “In accordance with 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. In this regard, it may be noted that in accordance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, advertisements of betting platforms, being an illegal activity, cannot be shown on digital media.”

Advertising betting platforms on websites and TV channels in India is illegal, as betting itself is illegal in most states. This is clarified within the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, and the IT Rules 2021, which the advisories rely upon.

What does an advisory mean legally?

Advisories are types of advice that are important and are often issued by various government bodies.

An advisory is not law, meaning that anyone in breach of an advisory recommendation cannot be immediately penalized or arrested.

That said, an advisory can be used as supporting evidence against someone who carried on with their actions despite knowledge of the advisory.