Illegal betting website Khelraja promotes brand through hoardings with impunity across Siliguri, Sikkim; govt mute spectator

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Illegal gambling and betting companies in the country are leaving no stone unturned to entice innocent individuals to participate in betting through their advertisements. In recent days, hoardings of an unlawful gaming site named Khelraja have been spotted all the way from Siliguri in West Bengal to Gangtok in Sikkim. This unauthorised gambling site features actress Esha Gupta on its posters, encouraging people to bet through this platform. The banner also claims that around 20 lakh people are currently engaging in gambling through this app. The illegal offshore betting platform Khelraja signed Esha Gupta as its brand ambassador last year.

While some states in the country, such as Sikkim, Goa, allow the operation of casinos with licenses, no state has granted any form of license for online gambling. Moreover, these companies are not registered anywhere in India. The Ministry of Finance recently urged these companies to register for GST, but in response to a question in the Lok Sabha, the ministry stated that no company has registered yet.

In response to the advertisements of illegal online gambling companies, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has prohibited all media and advertising agencies from publishing such advertisements. The ministry has issued several warnings regarding this matter. Despite multiple advisories from the central government, other celebrities like Ritu Verma and Nivetha Pethuraj continue to promote illegal betting platforms with impunity.

Also, some state governments continue to allow these advertisements to be displayed locally, hampering the interests of the younger generations to online gambling.