Exclusive: Star and Sony to discontinue advertising deals with offshore betting firms

Published on:

India’s top sports broadcasters Star and Sony have decided to move away from advertising offshore betting firms. Sources aware of the developments say a year long advertising deal by Sony with Ukraine based Parimatch is now scrapped.

Meanwhile, Star Network which owns telecast rights for Indian international matches and ICC tournaments has decided to do a compliance audit. Star in all likelihood will discontinue the relations with offshore betting firms.

Betting and gambling is illegal in India including online offshore websites. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued advisories to broadcasters and digital media twice this year – once in June and second time earlier this month.

In the second advisory, MIB even identified advertisements in the media sector in violation of laws with blatant disregard to first notification. Star, Sony continued promotions of surrogate betting firms even after the June 2022 MIB notification. Revocation of broadcast license is a big threat that the broadcasters could face for promoting gambling websites.

Surrogate advertising is also a violation of the Consumer Protection Act that prohibits surrogate advertising which is normally adopted by offshore betting websites. There were no betting or surrogate brands advertisements visible on Star Sports and Hotstar in the recently concluded India South Africa series.

All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), the apex self-regulatory body for skill gaming in India has been consistently raising the issue of offshore betting websites advertising aggressively in violation of laws in India and has written to PM Modi earlier this year.

On 4th December, 2020, the MIB had issued an advisory to Private Satellite TV channels to adhere to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on advertisements of online gaming which contained specific Do’s and Dont’s for print and audio-visual advertisements of online gaming. This notification was disregarded and the number of gambling ads only increased in 2021 and 2022.

In the advisory earlier this month, the government also noted that the logos of surrogate news platforms operated by the online betting sites are similar to the betting platform. It also clarified that neither these betting platforms nor the corresponding news websites are registered with any legal authority under Indian laws.

The Ministry has also mentioned that betting and gambling pose significant financial and socio-economic risks for consumers, especially youth and children.