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India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Bans Online Gambling Ads

India doesn’t yet have a legal online gambling market. It might come soon. But the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has made it clear where it stands, and wants gambling ads stopped.

The flag of India outside a government building. The country’s media regulator wants a ban on all online gambling and sports betting ads. (Image: Pinterest)

The MIB asked all media, digital, and print to no longer allow any advertising from online gambling and betting platforms. These ads, it explained in its announcement, are promoting a largely illegal activity.

Legal sports betting has a small footprint in India, as several states prohibit the activity. Therefore, the government requested that all media, digital and print refrain from advertising online gambling platforms, citing the “financial and socio-economic risk” to consumers.

Too Many Ads

This advisory is the result of an increase in the number of advertisements for online gambling and betting platforms and websites appearing across all mediums. The MIB states that online gambling advertisements promote this prohibited activity, particularly to youth and children.

It stated that online gambling advertisements are misleading and do not conform to the Consumer Protection Act 2019. In addition, they violate the Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act 1995 and the advertisement norms under the Norms of Journalistic Conduct under the Press Council Act 1978.

As a result, the MIB advised print and electronic media not to publish advertisements for any online betting platforms. The advisory also recommended that the social media and online advertising intermediaries and publishers not display or target such ads toward Indian audiences.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to satellite TV channels in December 2020. It advised them to follow the Advertising Standards Council of India guidelines for online gaming advertisements. These guidelines included specific guidelines for audio-visual and print advertisements.

New Online Gaming Initiatives

India created a new panel last week to explore how to frame a possible online gambling market. At the same time, it’s also looking specifically into online gambling and rummy.

Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, established a committee to examine the effects of online rummy. This was necessary because of the increasing number of suicides by online gamblers.

He established the committee last Friday, announcing that a retired justice with the Madras High Court will oversee the project. The government has asked the committee to submit a report on the matter within two weeks.

The responsibility for conducting a thorough study of the advertisements advocating online gambling has been assigned to the committee. In addition, the committee will also investigate cases of suicides and monetary losses resulting from online gambling.

After the committee has submitted its findings in a final report, legislators will likely work on a law to develop the panel’s recommendations.


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