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100+ complaints against online gaming ads processed since January 2021: Govt in Lok Sabha

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Over 100 complaints against advertisements related to “online real money gaming” have been processed by the Advertising Standards Council of India since January last year, the government told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. In a written reply, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said the ministry has issued an advisory to private satellite TV channels to comply with the guidelines of ASCI on advertisements relating to online gaming to protect consumers and inform them regarding the financial risks and other factors involved. The minister gave this response while responding to queries from Premjibhai Solanki who is a BJP MP from Gujarat.

“The ASCI is a self regulating body which examines complaints relating to gaming advertisements of offshore gaming companies in the context of contravention of the ASCI code or guidelines on online gaming for real money winnings,” Thakur said in a written response. “From January 2021 to January 2022, ASCI has processed 117 complaints related to online real money gaming,” he said. The minister said that the Central Consumer Protection Authority can issue directions in this regard.

The questions by Premjibhai are related to misleading advertisements by the illegal offshore betting and gambling websites on Indian TV and Over The Top (OTT) channels. The MP sought details from the Government on the steps taken to stop such advertisements and whether the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) is empowered to take action against such advertisement violations.

The guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) that came into effect on December 15, 2020, require real money gaming advertisements to not be aimed at minors, not present gaming as a possible source of livelihood or link it to success.
In addition, the guidelines also require all advertisements to carry a disclaimer regarding the risk of financial loss and the addictive nature of such games in print and audio/visual formats: “This game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk.”

Earlier in February 2021, it was that ASCI processed 81 complaints against advertisements of various online gaming platforms after releasing guidelines related to real-money gaming. In terms of platforms, a majority of the complaints received were regarding ads on Instagram (39) and YouTube (37). The maximum number of complaints were filed against online cricket (55) and rummy (15).

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