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Ahead of Asia Cup and World Cup, Govt cautions on gambling, betting, warns against ads

Betting advertisements increase around major sporting events and likely involve black money, the Government said Friday, as it reiterated an advisory against such content with a warning of strict action.

The advisory comes days before the Asia Cup starts on August 31, and just weeks before the cricket World Cup is scheduled to begin October 5.

In a statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) advised “all stakeholders, including media entities, online advertisement intermediaries and social media platforms” to immediately refrain from showing advertisements and promotional content on betting or gambling in any form. Failure to adhere to this advisory, it said, may invite appropriate action.

Spelling out the financial and socio-economic risks of such activity for consumers, the Ministry cited recent action it took against a network of agents who collected large sums of money from users of gambling apps and funneled it out of the country.

This mechanism, it further explained, has linkages to money laundering networks and threatens the country’s financial security. It’s also highly likely that black money is used to pay for such advertisements, the Ministry said.

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The Ministry had issued similar advisories to media platforms in June and October last year, and again in April this year before the start of the high-voltage Indian Premier League (IPL).

According to the Government, betting and gambling is illegal and advertising or promoting such activities directly or indirectly on any media platforms falls foul of the various statutes, including under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, etc.

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Furthermore, under the recently amended rule 3 (1) (b) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, intermediaries are obligated to make reasonable efforts so that users do not “host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share” any information which is not permissible.

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