CCPA issues advisory to curb the promotion of illegal betting and gambling

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The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued a detailed advisory aimed at curbing the rise of advertisements promoting unlawful activities such as betting and gambling. The advisory, issued in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, emphasizes the prohibition of advertising, promotion, and endorsement of activities deemed illegal under various laws. The advisory has been published on the PIB website.

Betting and gambling, prohibited under the Public Gambling Act, of 1867, are considered illegal in the majority of regions across the country. Despite this legal stand, online platforms continue to advertise betting and gambling, both directly and under the guise of gaming. Such endorsements pose significant financial and socio-economic risks, particularly to the youth.

The advisory highlights the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s efforts in cautioning media platforms against publicizing betting and gambling entities. Online advertisement intermediaries have also been warned against targeting such promotions toward the Indian audience.

A key concern highlighted in the advisory is the engagement of celebrities and influencers in endorsing betting platforms, which inadvertently lends legitimacy to these unlawful activities. In the recent past, we have seen celebrities like Ritu Varma and Esha Gupta promoting illegal offshore betting apps. Also, a number of celebrities have been accused in the promotion of the ongoing Mahadev Book App case. The CCPA stresses that any involvement in promoting or advertising online gambling and betting, given its illegal status in the majority of states, renders one equally liable for participating in illegal activity.

The Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, clearly prohibit advertisements of products or services prohibited under prevailing laws. It is emphasized that these guidelines apply across all mediums, including cable TV, online platforms, digital media, and print media.

The advisory cautions that any advertisement or endorsement of activities prohibited by law, such as betting or gambling, will be subject to rigorous scrutiny. In case of violations, stringent measures as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, will be taken against all parties involved, including manufacturers, advertisers, publishers, intermediaries, social media platforms, celebrities, influencers, endorsers, and other relevant stakeholders.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority urges strict adherence to these guidelines and calls upon all stakeholders to refrain from promoting or endorsing activities that violate Indian law. This advisory marks a proactive step toward safeguarding consumers and upholding the integrity of legal frameworks governing commercial activities within the country.