The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines related to real-money gaming, which came into effect from December 15, have received an overwhelming response.
Within seven weeks of the release, ASCI processed complaints against 81 advertisements that were in potential violation of its guidelines. Around 75% of the complaints were from end-consumers, while the rest were taken up suo motu by ASCI.
In 15 cases, the advertisements have been voluntarily withdrawn by the advertisers after receiving a communication from ASCI. In another 27 cases, the advertiser had removed the advertisements after the complaint was lodged but before they received a communication from ASCI.
In two cases, the advertisers contested the complaint, but these were upheld as the advertisements violated the ASCI code. Complaints against 37 advertisements are under process where the ASCI has written to the advertiser for an explanation, and awaiting reply.
In terms of platforms, a majority of the complaints received were from Instagram (39) and YouTube (37). Cricket (55) and rummy (15) scored the most number of complaints in terms of types of games.
The guidelines addressed key concerns around the advertising of online games that involved real money. The guidelines require advertisements to not be aimed at minors, not present gaming as a possibly source of livelihood, or link it to success. In addition, the guidelines require all advertisements to carry a disclaimer regarding the risk of financial loss and the addictive nature of such games. These guidelines were backed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which issued an advisory requiring all advertisements to adhere to ASCI guidelines.
Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, said, “Different stakeholders have highlighted possible concerns as online real money gaming becomes a big industry. ASCI introduced the gaming guidelines to protect consumers and address the legitimate concerns of consumers and stakeholders. We are quite happy to note that consumers have come forward to report advertisements that potentially violate the code. We too are keeping a close eye on such advertisements and, through our association with TAM Media Research, we are monitoring the digital space more efficiently. With such steps, we hope to make advertisements for online gaming for real money winnings more transparent and safer for consumers.”
The gaming guidelines were issued after consultations with different stakeholders such as Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, industry stakeholders as well as consumer interest groups and individuals.