ASCI receives 383 complaints against gaming ads

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Gaming emerged among the top violative categories in terms of advertisement complaints received by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) in the financial year 2021-22. ASCI’s Gaming Advertisement Guidelines came into effect from 15th Dec, 2020.

99% of these violations are on digital platforms with the remaining 1% on print and television. As per the ASCI report, the self-regulatory body “looked at” 383 gaming advertisements for April 2021-March 2022 period, a rise of 472% compared to previous year.

While ASCI reviewed 369 gaming advertisements, 359 advertisements required modifications. Fantasy football app Twelfth Man by NxGn Sports Interactive topped the list with 63 advertisements violating the advertising guidelines, followed by another fantasy sports platform Khelo Fantasy by Gig Work Private Limited that accounted for 60 advertisements.

Besides, unicorn gaming startups Dream11, Games 24/7, MPL received 10, 8, 2 complaints respectively.

Of all these advertisements, 8 featuring celebrities were found to be misleading and 22 advertisements had influencer disclosure violations.

Most violative claims in the Gaming sector were pertaining to leadership, guaranteed winnings, prize money assurance and safety, security & privacy claims. Other claims like consumer trust – trusted by 3 billion users etc., and comparative claims like win better, Xtimes more winnings were also seen.

Interestingly, complaints were received against betting companies like Betway, 1xBet. Betting is illegal in India.

Recently, the Ministry of Broadcasting has issued an advisory on online gaming and betting ads. Last month, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs issued guidelines prohibiting surrogate advertisements.

Overall, ASCI processed 5,532 advertisements during April 2021-March 2022, with online gaming advertisements accounting for 8%.

The online gaming sector may also see a levy of 28% goods and services tax (GST) from current 18% on the contest entry amount. Industry bodies such as AIGF, FIFS, and EGF are scheduled to meet the GoM this week.

The GST Council had deferred the decision last month on imposing 28% GST on online gaming and referred the matter again to the GoM for fresh consideration.