Crackdown on Online Betting Ads: Centre Urges States to Remove Gambling Promotion Hoardings

Online betting and gambling has led to several suicides and fatalities in recent times and the number is on a surge. Recently, the Tamil Nadu government passed a Bill that banned online betting and gambling in the state.

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill was passed by the Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi in a bid to arrest the suicide cases that witnessed a surge in the South Indian state.

Now, the Central Government of India has stepped in and has decided to give its verdict on its growing problem. It has directed all states to stop online betting and gambling promotions and hoardings and also has asked the states to stop the promotion of their websites and applications.

“While such advertisements have been largely curbed in mainstream print, electronic and digital media, it has now come to the notice that some betting and gambling platforms have started using outdoor media such as hoardings, posters, banners, auto rickshaw branding, etc. to promote their websites/apps in India,” stated a letter that was written by Apurva Chandra, who is the Information and Broadcasting Secretary of India.

The letter was sent to the States and the Union Territories of India on 2nd May 2023.

Why has the Centre taken such a bold step?

It is imperative for us to understand the logic behind such a bold and aggressive step from the Central Government. The number of people who are dying because of their addiction to online gambling is rising in an unprecedented level.

Tamil Nadu witnessed 41 deaths and this is the sole reason Governor RN Ravi had to pass the Bill. Maharashtra had earlier banned online betting and gambling in its state via the “Bombay Wager Act”.

Addiction to these games is also leading the youth to digress from their education and daily routines. The students are getting low grades which is leading to anxiety and depression and finally, they end up giving up on their life.

Several people end up resorting to unlawful means such as thefts and crimes in order to pay back the money which they had borrowed for playing betting and online gambling games. The Centre wants to portray a strong and rigid image and this step will go on to help the youth of the country.

Notice which the Ministry had served in 2022

Last year, around June, the Ministry had said that the advertisements of these online gambling and betting platforms were quite ‘misleading’ and were not “in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act”.

“Such advertisements were prima facie observed to be misleading, and not in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act. Since betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country, they pose financial and social economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children,” said the Ministry, last year.

Then, on 3rd October 2022, the Central Government issued two advisories to the private satellite TV channels, OTT platforms and digital news media houses and publishers in order to curb the online gambling and betting advertisements on their platforms.

Once again on 6th April 2023, the Centre asked the private parties to refrain from having these advertisers.

Since betting and gambling are illegal in most states of India, the advertisements could lead to heavy penalties and legal action.

“Since betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country, they pose financial and social economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. Keeping in view the larger public interest, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India issued an Advisory dated June 13, 2022 to the media to refrain from publishing such advertisements,” said Apurva Chandra.

Parimatch Hoarding in Goa

Centre threatened to slap legal notices last month

In the advisory which was given out on 6th April 2023, the Central Government had clearly stated that the online parties which have these gambling and betting advertisers on board will be slapped with legal notices. It was a very blunt way of saying that legal action will be taken.

“The advisory has been issued to all media formats, including newspapers, television channels, and online news publishers, and showed specific examples where such advertisements have appeared in the media in recent times,” said the Ministry.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or encouragement to engage in online gambling activities. Gambling laws and regulations vary significantly by jurisdiction, and it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they are in compliance with local laws before participating in any form of online gambling.

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