I&B Ministry Issues Advisory on Gambling Advertising
Jul 21 (PR): An advisory was issued by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) guiding print and electronic media to avoid advertising platforms for online betting and gambling. The Ministry stated that such activities are prohibited in most of India and bring financial and socio-economic risks for users.
“The advertisements of online betting are misleading, and do not appear to be in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995, and advertisement norms under the Norms of Journalistic Conduct laid down by the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act, 1978”, the statement of the I&B Ministry said.
Online and social media, as well as online advertisement intermediaries and publishers were also advised to refrain from promoting gambling and betting companies. The development came after a meeting between the I&B Ministry with the Ministries of Consumer Affairs and Electronics & IT, and several organizations including the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), and the Online Rummy Federation (ORF).
Earlier, in December 2020, an advisory was issued to TV channels directing them to adhere to ASCI guidelines when advertising online gaming. The guidelines contain restrictions on showing minors and depicting online gaming as an opportunity for alternative income or success. Advertisements should also have a disclaimer of certain proportions warning that gaming bears financial risks and may be addictive.
Besides the Indian gaming organizations that participated in the meeting held by the I&B Ministry, the issuing of the advisory was welcomed also by foreign operators of online casino for real money and betting platforms as a step towards the implementation of much needed regulation over the sector.
“Guidelines on betting and gambling advertising is common practice in regulated markets. It ensures that legitimate operators are taking responsibility for promoting their products in a clear and responsible way. Although the advisory isn’t law, it gives a good indication of the type of marketing guidelines we might see as part of an upcoming gambling and betting regulation,” commented Felicia Wijkander, Editor in Chief of ENV Media, a real money gaming market expertise company and operator of some of the largest casino comparison and betting review platforms working in India.
The Introduction of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill: a Great Step in the Right Direction
“The bill is a great step in the right direction, showing all the things India has to gain from online regulation,” as per the opinion of gambling experts at ENV Media on the introduction of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022, at the Lok Sabha on April 1 this year.
Some of the most important benefits that an up-to-date regulation of online gaming can ensure include the implementation of responsible gaming mechanisms and processes, protection of player rights, mental health and financial status, prevention of gambling by minors, fairness of conduct and social responsibility of operators, taxation revenues and anti-money laundering mechanisms.
According to the experts, the regulation bill in the form it was proposed has a number of pitfalls, mainly in the lack of a dedicated focus on gamer protection and the fact that it tries to bracket together Andar Bahar game titles and other real money games together with casual games containing some real money features.
The Setting up of a Panel to Study Global Best Practices in Gaming Regulation also Welcomed
In May this year, the Union Government established an inter-ministerial panel tasked to study the best practices around the world in regulations over gaming, consult experts, and propose a broad framework of legislation necessary to uniformly regulate the sector in India. This move too was welcomed by foreign operators as a sensible step towards ensuring a safe gaming environment for Indians and a sustainable business ecosystem.
“Today, we have a number of markets in which online gambling and betting are regulated. The new task force is a welcome addition to the regulatory research the government is doing. This way, the task force can review existing regulations and cherry-pick regulatory guidelines that best suit the Indian betting market,” Felicia Wijkander said.