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Celebs Cautioned Against Endorsing Betting, Gambling Activities

Celebrities and influencers have been cautioned against endorsing illegal activities, including betting and gambling, in an advisory released by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).

The advisory dated March 6, 2024, states that despite such activities being illegal in most of the states (betting and gambling are covered under the State List as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution), online betting platforms engage in advertising betting and gambling directly, and indirectly under the guise of gaming.

Over the last few years, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued multiple advisories urging online advertisement intermediaries, publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media, etc. to refrain from publishing advertisements on online betting platforms. Besides the risk faced by consumers, the Ministry has flagged the involvement of money laundering networks. These advisories refer to several legislations and rules, including the Press Council Act, 1978, the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council, and the Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995.

The Ministry’s latest advisory on this subject draws attention to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Rule 3(1)(b) of the 2021 Rules requires an intermediary to make reasonable efforts by itself, and to cause the users of its computer resource to not host information that “(ix) 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; (xi) violates any law for the time being in force”. Clauses regarding online games were added, vide an amendment, in April 2023 (Click here to read our detailed article on the amendment rules).

Notably, advertisements prohibited under other laws are also prohibited under Clause 9 of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022. Moreover, these guidelines apply to all advertisements regardless of form, format or medium (print, online or digital media, cable TV, etc.). In case of any violation, action against the advertisers, celebrities, influencers, intermediaries, and other stakeholders would be taken in accordance with provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

 

March 7, 2024