Consumer Affairs Ministry urges action against illegal betting and gambling ads violating CCPA norms

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In response to the surge of illegal betting and gambling promotions, particularly during cricket seasons like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and election periods, the Consumer Affairs Ministry has called for measures. The ministry aims to control the increase of indirect and surrogate advertisements violating the guidelines set by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), according to informed sources.

Even though there are clear rules against it, lots of people still use betting apps. This has made the government step in to do something about it. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has reached out to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity), urging them to identify and take legal action against violators, including imposing penalties and banning the operations of these illegal apps.

As reported by Mint, under the Public Gambling Act of 1867, betting and gambling are outlawed across most of India. Nonetheless, online betting platforms continue to promote their services, raising concerns about the financial and socio-economic repercussions, particularly among the youth.

India’s gaming market, estimated to reach $3.1 billion by FY23 and projected to grow to $7.5 billion by FY28, stands as the second-largest globally, with 15.4 billion game downloads in FY23 alone, trailing only behind China.

“We are not seeking to regulate regulators. Meity oversees online gaming, and thus, we have requested their scrutiny of compliance issues with gaming apps and the identification of violators and user trends,” remarked one of the officials involved.

Following a review of compliance, stakeholders will be consulted to strengthen regulations, aiming to shield the targeted audience from addiction and financial dangers.

Online gaming poses various risks, including addiction, health complications from prolonged screen time, social detachment, financial losses, privacy breaches, cyberbullying, and exposure to violent content.

“Betting via online gaming apps is a concern, which needs a firm stance from the Consumer Affairs Ministry. These apps rely on vulnerable individuals, and the CCPA should enforce stricter regulations to safeguard consumers,” emphasized Ashim Sanyal, CEO and secretary of Consumer Voice.

Furthermore, the ministry is supporting Bengaluru’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) in studying disruptive impulse control behaviors associated with online gaming, aiming to identify vulnerabilities.

“The research findings will inform the formulation of guidelines to protect consumers in the realm of online gaming,” affirmed another official, highlighting the importance of leveraging technology to mitigate risks.

Meity has abandoned the notion of a self-regulatory body for online gaming, opting instead to establish an independent regulator. This regulator will authorize only registered entities to offer e-gaming services in India, marking a step towards regulating the growing online gaming industry.