Gaming companies in India are shifting the blame on offshore betting players for violating advertising guidelines, however, Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, said that not just offshore gaming industry players, but the Indian gaming brands are also advertising guidelines violaters.
The gaming sector continues to remain one of the top five violative sectors when it comes to the complaint report released by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) be it half-yearly or annually.
She went on to add that even today, some gaming industry players do not adhere to the ASCI code and guidelines and go on to either skip the disclaimer or play it in a slightly fast-forward manner, unlike the entire campaign.
“It is a genuine challenge for the industry and the gaming industry really needs to come together to follow the guidelines. While the offshore betting ads are a nuisance and the law will be dealing with the same, that is not the only problem,” emphasised Kapoor.
As per ASCI Complaints Insights 2021-22, which was released in June this year, the gaming sector contributed to 8% of the total complaints received by the self-regulatory body for advertising in India.
Additionally, ASCI’s half-yearly complaints report, released in November, this year, also mentioned that the gaming sector contributed to 4% of the total complaints received against ad-guideline violation.
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, several players from the Indian gaming industry have pointed out that it is the offshore players who violate the ad guidelines and norms, due to which the entire Real Money Gaming industry suffers.
Gaurav Mehta, CMO, Zupee, had earlier said, “There are a lot of offshore gambling sites under the guise of content sites, news sites, etc. who have been advertising massively on broadcast and on digital media and because they are based off-shore, they have not been following the guidelines in letter and in spirit with the country’s regulations.”
Furthermore, he also stated that because of the misdemeanours and misdeeds of certain offshore gambling sites, the RMG sector in the country appears to be in a bad light, despite being very rule-compliant and giving out disclaimers in ads rolled out on several mediums.
“If one actually looks at any of the big advertisers in the past few years from the RMG Sector, they have been marketing in a manner wherein they are disseminating information in the right manner and as prescribed by ASCI in the internal codes,” he stated.
Krishnendu Guha, Chief Revenue Officer, Adda52, also stated that one of the challenges of the modern-day gaming industry is that most of the foreign companies who are into RMG are capitalising on the absence of a regulatory body in India and tweaking the rules to their advantage.
“While there are a few players who are violating the norms, the image of the whole of the online gaming industry is tarnished. Thus, the categorisation of skill-based and chance-based games becomes highly crucial,” he added.
Upon being asked as to whether it is the offshore players or the entire gaming industry including Indian players that continue to violate the guidelines, ASCI’s Kapoor replied that the ‘purely betting’ offshore gaming companies who broadcast in India are in potential violation of the law, and it is up to the government and the judiciary to decide if it is legal or not.
“But within the scope of ASCI, we do find that there are gaps in the way that the gaming industry implements the ad campaigns and thus the industry should focus on taking its own share of responsibility and comply with the norms and ad guidelines that are applicable to them as well,” Kapoor said.
It is to be noted that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had also issued advisory guidelines to media platforms, advising TV channels and digital news publishers to refrain from broadcasting ads pertinent to betting platforms.
The advisory further stated that several online offshore betting platforms have also resorted to using news websites as surrogate products to advertise the betting platforms on digital media and the violation of the earlier guidelines may also invite penal action for the broadcasters.