With digital and mainstream media embargo, illegal gambling and betting websites focus on outdoor advertising

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As television broadcasters, OTT players and digital news publishers pulled the plug off the illegal online casino and betting ads last month, the gambling platforms have now shifted marketing promotions to outdoor advertising.

It is known that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued the second advisory last month directing digital and mainstream media to refrain from promoting illegal gambling platforms. With this, the number of gambling and betting promotions by top media houses have become negligible.

An illegal casino ad on an autorickshaw

With the door shut to digital and mainstream media ads, the revenue rich illegal gambling platforms are using outdoor advertising ranging from autorickshaws, cabs, bus stop billboards and in one case affixing the whole Hyderabad metro rail interiors with gambling promotions. Promotions on public transport service like metro rail are purportedly used to give credence to illegal gambling offerings.

In metropolitans it became a common sight to find autorickshaws or cabs with large gambling promotion banners affixed in the rear or on the sides. The drivers or the owners of these vehicles are often unaware that they are promoting something which can land them in jail.

The local police authorities are turning a blind eye while the outdoor advertising is outside the purview of the Central government.

In the advisory last month, citing significant financial and socio-economic risks for the consumers, the Ministry said that multiple online offshore betting platforms were using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise their platforms.

Essentially, it was observed that many online betting platforms were advertising themselves as ‘professional sports blogs’ and ‘sports news websites’ while operating as full-fledged betting platforms.

There are still instances of OTT platforms promoting illegal gambling platforms. In once case, two time legislator and top Telugu hero N. Balakrishna was seen promoting illegal gambling brand Fun88 in a popular Telugu show Unstoppable2.