Popular individuals ranging from celebrities, internet influencers, and cricketers, are progressively violating the government advisory councils against the prohibition of online betting ads and surrogates on TV and Digital Platforms. In October the information and broadcasting ministry sanctioned an advisory and asked the private TV channels, as well as OTT platforms to restrict the airing of advertisements and endorsements of online betting sites that affects the mass socio-economic and major financial issues and gave them 2 weeks to enact. Later on, Fairplay posted on Instagram an endorsement of the online betting site featuring many celebrities such as Ranbir Kapoor, Mithali Raj and Kiara Advani to name a few.
Ranvijay Singha & Kevin Pieterson were also noticed to continue their advertisement on Betway’s Homepage. All of which are totally against the minister’s Advisory, particularly to 1XBET, Wolf777, Betway, PariMatch. To create awareness among the population, the All India Gaming Federation chief executive, Roland Lander said “The most problematic aspect of these offshore websites is how they promote and advertise illegal products. We see prominent influencers from sports and entertainment backgrounds endorsing these products”, as reported by Mint.
It is estimated that withdrawal of such ads has costs atleast Rs.1500 crore a year. The ministry and the advisory didn't put any restrictions on any influencers or celebrities as they believe that is the moral responsibility of the individuals to refrain from appearing in these typical advertisements.
Dhruv Garg, a tech policy and legal consultant stated “Gambling is illegal in most states. It is misleading to endorse it as a legitimate product or service. Since they are promoting something patently illegal, the CCPA can take action against the influencers”, as reported by Mint.
It's the moral responsibility of the influencers not to promote an illegal advertising product and misleading products are also illegal. Offshore gambling companies mainly use three methods to attract and interact with potential customers. Firstly, it's either by drawing the attention of non-suspicious consumers through endorsements, secondly by using dubious financial channels to huge illicit sums of money from consumers and lastly by engaging government monitoring agencies to huge a number of minor websites.
Garg also added that these efforts can atleast make consumers not participate in these illegal gambling campaigns and hence stop giving offshore companies the opportunity to endorse their product among the masses.
The Advertising Standard Council of India(ASCI) mentioned that the post is a clear violation of the guidelines of CCPA and falls under the category of ads prohibited by law. Manisha Kapoor, Chief executive of ASCI also commented “Gambling isn't allowed by law in most parts of India. The I & B ministry has been taking cognizance of the violations. Also, the ministry of consumer affairs is a nodal ministry for all advertising-related issues, they could also look into this”, as reported by Mint.
ASCI in 2021 mentioned that atleast 30% of the cases pertained to influencers.
“Influencers and other endorsers are covered under the Consumer Protection Act 2021, and there are penalties laid out in the law. However, because there is no central act related to gambling, there may be some lack of clarity on how some issues are being interpreted by regulators, influencers and platforms," Kapoor said as reported by Mint.