As per TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators January–March 2023, the internet penetration in India, as of March 2023, is over 880 million, and the number of telecom subscribers, as of March 2023, is over 1172 million.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday advised all stakeholders, including media entities, online advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms, to immediately refrain from showing advertisements/promotional content on betting/gambling in any form.
It added that failure to adhere to this advisory may invite appropriate action from the Government of India under various statutes.
The Ministry cited the recent Central government action against a network of agents who had collected substantial money from users of gambling apps that had subsequently funneled the funds out of India to reiterate that advertisements of gambling/betting platforms pose significant financial and socio-economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children. It further added that this mechanism has linkages to money laundering networks, thereby threatening the financial security of the country.
The Ministry stated in the advisory that along with these illegalities, it is also highly likely that black money is used to pay for such advertisements. To that end, the Ministry noted that certain media entities, including advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms, have been allowing direct and indirect advertisements of betting and gambling platforms during major sporting events, including cricket tournaments. Further, the Ministry observed that there is a tendency to spike promotion of such betting and gambling platforms during a major sporting event, especially cricket, and one such important international event is beginning in a few days from now.
The Ministry issued advisories to warn media platforms against publicising betting/gambling platforms. The online advertisement intermediaries have also been advised not to target such advertisements towards the Indian audience. Advisories issued by the Ministry on 13 June 2022, 3 October 2022 and 6 April 2023 were issued to this end. These advisories stated that betting and gambling were illegal activities and hence advertisements/promotion of such activities directly or indirectly on any of the media platforms fall foul of the various statutes, including under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, etc.