The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT) platforms to refrain from publishing advertisements for online betting platforms.
The Ministry had earlier issued a similar advisory on 13.06.2022. However, given that the issue of gambling continues to plague Indian audiences, especially the youth, the Ministry further issued this advisory on October 3, 2022.
The Government has been trying to deal with the problems of gambling and addiction issues afflicting most parts of the country. Given that betting/gambling is illegal in some of the states in India, advertising such activities on digital media is strictly prohibited under the Code of Ethics of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, which restrains any publisher from transmitting or publishing any content that is prohibited under any law.
Further Section 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, also prohibits the advertisement of any goods, products or services that are prohibited from being advertised under any law, rules or regulations in force.
The advisory also prohibits offshore betting platforms from surrogate advertising on digital media by posing as news websites. The notice further states that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs and news websites using strikingly similar logos. They also provide an indicative list of online betting platforms using news as surrogate advertising.
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, this type of surrogate advertisement is strictly prohibited under Section 6 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements 2022.