Chhattisgarh police arrests Instagram star Babu Khemani for promoting online betting platform

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Babu Khemani alias Gulshan, an Instagram star, has been found to be promoting online betting app “Gajanand Book” on the social media platform by the Chhattisgarh police.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Prashant Aggarwal had instructed Additional Superintendent of Police City/Crime Abhishek Maheshwari, Deputy Superintendent of Police Crime Dinesh Sinha, and in-charge of Anti-Crime and Cyber Unit to locate Khemani and take appropriate legal action.

Based on it, the Anti-Crime and Cyber Unit team has tracked down Khemani and arrested him. Charges have been brought up against him according to relevant regulations for promoting online gambling, as reported by Janta Se Rishta.

Celebrities like Shakti Kapoor, Moonmoon Dutta, Aftab Shivdasani and other influencers like Anveshi Jain and Alisha Rajpoot have also promoted Gajanand Book in the last few months going by their Instagram page.

Meanwhile, many of the other Instagram stars and pages have previously promoted other online gambling platforms as well which have mainly targeted the age group of 18-38 years. Some of these pages included a large fan following such as @bcbilliofficial with over 1.8 million followers, @daily_over_dose with more than 1.8 million followers and @adultgram with over 5.4 million followers, to name a few.

Recently, popular actress Esha Gupta also joined an offshore betting platform Khelraja as their brand ambassador. The company is originally based in Curacao where taxation laws are lenient and operates illegally in India.

According to the guidelines laid down by The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), celebrity endorsements shouldn’t be deceptive, misleading, or unsupported and that a celebrity should take reasonable steps to achieve this.

Although these guidelines are voluntary in nature, The Consumer Protection Act 2019 (CPA) provides a safeguard for the consumers. The Act states that, “In case any endorser partakes in false, misleading or illegal advertisements, a penalty of Rs 10-50 lakh can be imposed on them.”

A celebrity can also be barred from appearing in advertisements for up to one year which can be extended to three years for repeat offenders. Incidentally, according to a recent study from IIM Rohtak, celebrities who promote online gambling are more likely to influence young people to engage in it.

Apart from celebrities endorsing these gambling websites and apps, many of the cable TV providers, OTT platforms and digital publishers have been found to be promoting online gambling.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) has sent advisories to these private satellite television channels and OTT platforms to refrain from broadcasting any further adverts relating to online gambling.