Offshore betting website Fairplay bypasses domain blocking by changing website URL

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Offshore gambling website FairPlay which became inaccessible since last evening due to a ban under Information Technology Act, 2000 has quickly undertaken remedial measures of changing the domain name to bypass the restriction. The illegal website has informed the users about the change in domain name.

This is a sort of open challenge to the government which in recent times has decided to crackdown on illegal offshore gambling websites.

Such a change in domain names to bypass ban restriction is not new. Piracy and illegal streaming websites often change domain names to bypass bans. But when compared to illegal gambling websites, piracy websites don’t rely on banking systems to continue their operations.

This blatant aggresive move by FairPlay points to the fact that unless the banking system access is prohibited, the gambling websites may continue operations.

According to skill gaming body AIGF, the offshore websites annually spend nearly INR 3,500 crore on advertisements and promotions, another 500 crore on celebrities and influencers to endorse their platforms, making it a total of around 4,000 crore spent by these companies annually. The revenues are estimated to be even higher creating a major socio-economic risk to the country if left unhindered.

Earlier this month, we reported that the offshore betting companies are under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate, the investigative body under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) for routing betting proceeds. FEMA doesn’t permit remittances in relation to betting.

In a major crackdown, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has instructed OTT, TV and other media platforms earlier this month to refrain from advertising/promoting offshore gambling companies – a second time since June. Private television broadcasters may lose broadcast license if they continue with gambling promotions.