BJP MP Gambhir lambasts BCCI chief for promoting fantasy apps, says change must come from top

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Former India opener and Lok Sabha member from Delhi Gautam Gambhir has criticized cricketers for promoting fantasy leagues as he opposed surrogate advertising and its rise in Indian sport thanks to endorsements from celebrities and fellow athletes. His former teammates Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, and Ravichandran Ashwin endorse surrogate betting brands.

Gambhir further added that he has always been against the advertising of alcohol, tobacco or online betting websites, adding that it is a collective responsibility to not promote these products in the country.

The former Indian opener said fantasy and betting are a little similar but not exactly the same. Citing BCCI chief and former Indian captain Ganguly endorsing fantasy games, Gambhir said the ban should come from the top as the cricketers cannot be blamed for the same if the BCCI President does it himself. Ganguly endorses fantasy portal My11Circle.

Gambhir himself promotes the fantasy portal Real11. The left-hander clarified that the one-year endorsement contract has expired. “In the IPL, most of the endorsements and sponsorships are from fantasy league games such as Dream 11. It should be a collective decision from the BCCI whether we should allow this to happen or not.”

Many betting websites registered in offshore jurisdictions have set up sports news and update portals in India where match predictions are provided. These portals eventually target users to betting portals.

The guidelines under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 released in June, defined “surrogate advertisement” as an advertisement for goods, products or services, whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods, product or service, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law. These guidelines prohibit surrogate advertisements.

When 13 Lok Sabha members posed questions on the penetration of illegal gambling and betting advertisements in the last Parliament session, the government gave a robotic response stating all necessary regulations and advisories are in place. So far all regulations appear to be talk only with online betting and gambling advertisements continuing to be unabated.