Illegal betting site Lotus365 encourages tax evasion, misleads users with allurements in new promotion

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Illegal offshore betting website Lotus365, whose dot com domain has already been blocked by the central government, has devised ingenious tactics to lure and mislead Indian customers.

In the latest promotion on its Instagram handle, an Instagram influencer through the company’s verified handle claims that it is the ‘first legal licensed and certified’ company and that there is ‘no tax on winning & no documentation required for withdrawal’ in flagrant violation of India’s Goods and Services Tax, Income Tax and anti-gambling laws.

The offshore website, known for its egregious claims, uses celebrities such as Urvashi Rautela, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kirti Karabanda as brand ambassadors to bring a shroud of credibility to their otherwise shady and illicit operations.

There have been several complaints against Lotus365 and several other similar offshore betting brands to the central government and law enforcement agencies, with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issuing two advisories last year asking television channels, OTT platforms, as well as print and digital media platforms to desist from advertising betting or gambling websites or their surrogate websites such as new portals or blogs.

While the dot com domain name of the brand was amongst 137 betting websites blocked by the central government last month, and advertisement and promotion of brands such as Lotus365 and Fairplay have almost completely stopped on television channels, influencers, cricketers, and celebrities of all hues continue to promote such websites with impunities, falsely making claims that such portals are ‘licensed’, ‘legal’ or the best or only legitimate platforms to bet their monies.

Interestingly, immediately after its dot com domain name was blocked, Lotus365 launched the mirror website with the same brand name, games and content through a dot in the domain name, with an elaborate charade of a concocted, false and fallacious press release and announcement claiming that the dot com domain name crashed due to heavy traffic leading the company to start a new domain name.

It remains to be seen whether the government cracks down on celebrities and influencers openly promoting illegal betting sites on social media websites with impunity and making false and inaccurate claims on behalf of the brands they represent.