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India government cracks down on celebrities advertising offshore gambling

| By Kyle Goldsmith
India’s ministry of information and broadcasting has warned celebrities and influencers against advertising offshore online operators on social media, stating they could face penal action for doing so.
India advertising

The ministry’s advisory explained that those with influence in India are prohibited from advertising illegal gambling operators in a surrogate manner. Those who do risk facing “rigorous scrutiny”.

Under the current system, the Indian government can issue notifications to intermediaries such as social media platforms to remove access to posts advertising illegal operators.

Beyond that, celebrities and influencers could also face proceedings under the 2019 Consumer Protection Act. This could lead to social media accounts being disabled, while further penal action can also be administered under applicable statutes.

The advisory highlighted the “significant financial and socio-economic implications of online betting” as reasons not to promote offshore operators.

CCPA warns celebrities on gambling advertising

Earlier this month, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) also published an advisory against celebrity advertising. This came after a notable rise in influencer marketing of illegal gambling.

That was the latest of a number of government advisories on the topic. Multiple warnings have been issued to social media platforms against the promotion of betting platforms. Non-skill based gambling is still illegal in the majority of regions in India under the Public Gambling Act 1867.

The CCPA stated that those with influence marketing gambling give the impression that betting is acceptable, even if it’s illegal. As a result, celebrities are “equally liable” for the offence.

India’s gambling market

India’s government published new rules last January to regulate online gambling. In doing so, it stated that any online game offered must not be in violation of existing laws.

Proposals were also submitted for self-regulatory bodies, comprising online gaming businesses and being responsible for creating rules. Other areas of focus included added protection for players from harm, addressing addiction, preventing financial crime and safeguarding children.

However, a recent study found only a tiny percentage of online gamblers had a “comprehensive awareness” of industry regulations and were at risk of using unregulated operators.

The study, published by Ken Research and entitled Consumer Behaviour Analysis for Online Gambling Industry in India, identified that more than a quarter of online gamblers in India experience significant issues, ranging from identity theft to transaction complications.

As part of its clampdown on offshore operators, the Indian government issued blocking orders in November against 22 betting apps and websites it said had been operating illegally.

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