The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently issued an advisory to print, electronic and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting platforms. The ministry has also asked social media, including online advertisement intermediaries and publishers, to refrain from such advertisements.
“Betting and gambling, illegal in most parts of the country, pose a significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. The advertisements for 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,” said the ministry in the advisory.
ASCI had processed over 117 complaints against advertisements related to online real money gaming between January 2021 and February 2022.
Online betting platforms were actively advertising on print, TV and digital media. Some OTT players like SonyLiv had also come under the radar almost two years ago for running direct advertising of these brands during an India-Australia one-day international cricket series.
With the new advisory coming out, BestMediaInfo.com reached out to TV, print and digital platforms to understand if the absence of these ads will have an impact on their ad revenues.
According to Sudipto Chowdhuri, Chief Revenue Officer and Executive President of Sales at India TV, there won’t be a major impact since the channel was already not picking up these ads.
“As far as we are concerned, we are very careful about accepting these ads. We are very strict about accepting ads from such categories. Our philosophy is that unless an advertisement has proper paperwork, we stay away from it. If we do take up such ads, guidelines and advisories can be issued anytime and we will be stuck with unnecessary hassles and court cases."
"A well known pan masala ad is running on every news channel except ours. According to the government guidelines, you need CBFC certification for those ads. This is why we did not carry their ad on air," he added.
A top media observer further explained that sales teams at news channels are under pressure to meet targets. So, at times, they do pick up such ads. Although he added that the channels that do pick up these ads regularly might experience a setback.
According to Ananth Nath, Executive Publisher of Delhi Press, even their revenues will not be impacted as they did not pick up these ads.
It must be noted that there are two kinds of games in the category, ‘skill-based and chance based’. Skill-based games are those where the user has to apply logic, and look at factors like the cricketer’s recent performances, ground conditions, analyse etc to predict the game or make a team. On the other hand, chance-based games work entirely upon the user’s money. Hence, they pose a bigger threat.
According to Chowdhuri, the advisory is for chance-based betting games and not skill-based games.
In 2020, the I&B Ministry had instructed the private satellite channels to ensure that ‘advertisements do not promote any activity which is prohibited by statute or law.’ It had issued an advisory to private satellite TV channels to adhere to the Advertising Standards Council of India guidelines on advertisements for online gaming.