The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday advised online news websites, OTT platforms, and private TV channels to refrain from publishing or broadcasting advertisements of online betting platforms or any surrogate product depicting them.
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Stating that any violation might invite penal action, the Ministry said despite its advisory dated June 13, 2022, some online offshore betting platforms had started using news websites as surrogate products to advertise on TV channels. It pointed out that betting and gambling were illegal in most parts of India, and therefore advertisements of betting platforms could not be shown on TV channels.
“In respect of the advertisements of the surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms, it may be mentioned that the logos of the concerned news websites are strikingly similar to the betting platform. The concerned betting platforms, and the corresponding news websites, are also not registered with any legal authority under Indian laws,” said the Ministry.
The Consumer Affairs Department also informed the Ministry that such companies had been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs, sports news websites, etc., while providing an indicative list of online betting platforms that were using news for surrogate advertising.
In view of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements-2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, read with the Advertising Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, advertisements of the news websites that were, in fact, surrogate promotions did not appear to be in strict conformity with the laws, said the Ministry.
The Ministry observed that promotional content and advertisements of betting platforms were still visible on certain news and OTT platforms.
The June 13 advisory to the various platforms had advised against publishing advertisements of online betting in the larger public interest. It had also asked the online advertisement intermediaries not to target such advertisements toward the Indian audience.