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Centre Asks News Websites, TV Channels to Refrain from Carrying Ads of Betting Sites, Warns of Action

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday asked news websites, OTT platforms, and private satellite channels to refrain from carrying advertisements for offshore betting sites. The central government also warned TV channels of penal action under applicable laws for violation of the advisory.

“…the private satellite television channels are strongly advised to refrain advertisements of online offshore betting platforms and/or their surrogate news websites or any such product/service depicting these platforms in a surrogate manner,” read the advisory issued by the ministry.

The ministry said that the advisory had been issued for the reason that betting and gambling is prohibited in most parts of the country, and pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers especially youth and children.

In a separate advisory to publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and OTT platforms, the ministry issued a similar directive and asked them not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.

Pointing out that some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as surrogate products to advertise themselves, the ministry said that in the advertisements of the surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms, the logos of the news websites were 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,” the advisory said, adding that the online offshore betting platforms appear to be promoting betting and gambling under the garb of news through surrogate advertising.

The Department of Consumer Affairs has also informed that online betting platforms have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs and sports news websites, etc. while providing an indicative list of online betting platforms which are using news for surrogate advertising.

The advisory said relevant laws have declared the advertisement of betting platforms an illegal activity and such ads cannot be shown on digital media or TV channels.

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