Union Information and Broadcasting ministry’s recent advisory to print, electronic and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting and gambling platforms has created a flutter in the industry and we hope that the advisory will not impact all online gaming platforms, especially the ones that offer skill-based games and can legally offer their services in India. To know more about this decision by the I&B Ministry, we got in touch with iGaming Consultant Jaydeep Chakravartty to know more about it.
The ones whose major offering consists of luck-based games might need to change their media and advertising strategies to comply with the advisory as this advisory is more for betting games and not skill-based ones.
“Betting and gambling, yet to be regulated in most parts of the country, pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children,” stated the advisory, which was issued to print, electronic and digital media. Hence, it is very important now to start considering a regulated environment where we can protect the most vulnerable parts of our society.
The advisory comes in light of instances of a number of advertisements of online betting websites appearing in print, electronic, social and online media. “The advertisements of 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”, it added.
The advisory will bring about clarification between betting and gambling games and skill-based games. At the moment most of the gaming companies in India from Esports to fantasy gaming companies and hyper casual gaming companies, along with card-based games, have been declared as skill-based games rather than betting and gambling by both the State’s high court and Supreme Court.
“The large spenders are nonetheless talent primarily based corporations relating to completely different mediums. And whereas it would influence the entire psyche of advertisers contemplating this advisory is for betting and playing corporations, it won’t influence skill-based games,” as per our analysis.
Many betting companies have converted themselves into skill-based games which allows them to advertise in India. New advisory will certainly impact players who specifically work in the betting platform space with their marketing mandates to attract Indian users.
The ministry, in the advisory, says concerns have been raised that such platforms promote betting and gambling which is not yet regulated in India. The Union ministry issued the advisory two days ago following a meeting between the ministry and ministries of Consumer Affairs, and Electronics & IT, along with Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), and Online Rummy Federation (ORF).
In December 2020, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued an advisory to private satellite TV channels to adhere to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on advertisements of online gaming which contained specific do’s and don’ts for print and audio-visual advertisements of online gaming.
Read Chakravartty’s perspective on Lotteries in India here.
I believe that a section of advertisers might adopt the route of surrogate advertising. The surrogate ads might not be as effective for online gaming platforms since their business models have emerged recently and still need to build awareness through marketing campaigns.
Here we should explain clearly the difference between betting and skill-based games. A game is classified as a skill game based on the outcome of the game which predominantly depends on the skills of the players and not on a chance event and hence is considered legal in all aspects including in social settings, clubs, casinos and online.
In India there is a strict prohibition on participation and offer of money in games of chance. Games of skill, however, are treated differently in that they are comparable to any other entertainment activity. The differential treatment which is accorded to games of skill and games of chance, as the former being permitted, and the latter being restricted has been a historic feature of Indian law which has flowed into the Indian statute from the prevalent principles under the British ruled India.
The growth trajectory of this industry has led to an increasing need of a regulatory framework to ensure integrity and transparency. With proliferation of entertainment options across online media platforms, the online gaming industry, represents a significant avenue for growth.
Manthra Koliyer is a writer at Gutshot Magazine. She has an affinity for seeing the world through people’s eyes. With a bubbly fun personality, you can always catch her chatting with anyone she comes across. Holding an English Literature degree from Wilson College, Mumbai, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Asian College of Journalism, this pop culture fanatic is ready to take on the world with a pen, paper, and microphone. She also actively works on her personal blog called namasteyconvict.blogspot.com, where for a moment she lets you into her drama-filled world.
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