The Indian Premier League (IPL), the latest edition of which kicked off on March 26, has witnessed high-decibel advertising from the online real-money gaming industry. Unfortunately, many of the commercials do not pass scrutiny when it comes to the guidelines prescribed by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
In the first week of the IPL alone, from March 26 to April 3, ASCI screened 35 ads from the category and identified 14 as being in potential violation of its code. ASCI is keeping a tab on TV as well as OTT ads.
In addition, in March alone, 285 social media ads of online real-money gaming companies were identified as being in violation of the ASCI Code.
ASCI noted that in some instances dubious claims such as ‘India’s biggest 1st prize’ were being made, and in many cases, the disclaimer informing consumers of the risks was flashed very quickly rather than at a normal speaking pace. In some cases, the advertisements had celebrities acting while the disclaimer was being spoken, distracting consumers from important information about risks. Some advertisements had disclaimers that were smaller than what has been prescribed.
These attempts at glossing over the disclaimers required to be carried out in the prescribed manner, informing about the risks of financial loss or game addiction, can severely compromise consumer interest. ASCI has urged gaming industry bodies to take up this issue with their members.
ASCI guidelines on real-money gaming came into effect on December 15, 2020. The guidelines require advertisements to not be aimed at minors, not present gaming as a source of livelihood or link it to success. In addition, the guidelines require all advertisements to carry a prominent 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 asking that advertisements adhere to the guidelines.
Manisha Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Secretary-General (SG), ASCI, said, “ASCI is concerned to note that, despite clear guidelines, some online real-money gaming firms are attempting a shortcut. For an industry that is under significant regulatory scrutiny, such acts by some companies paint the entire industry as irresponsible. IPL, being a massive platform, requires responsible behaviour from all parties – including gaming firms, broadcasters, celebrities and ad creators. We hope that all parties play their roles to ensure that consumers are not exposed to misleading advertising.”