Exclusive: DD denies telecasting surrogate betting ads in RTI reply, claims offshore betting website is ‘skill-based’ platform

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Last month, we have reported of DD Sports, a part of state broadcaster Prasar Bharati, telecasting advertisements of surrogate betting websites in violation of guidelines issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the rules issues under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Now in a RTI Reply, Prasar Bharati has disclosed that it infact broadcasted ads and bugs related to FairPlay and AVR Play but denied they are surrogate betting and online casino websites. Betting and online casinos are illegal in India.

Prasar Bharati claimed the ads are related to skill based games. But on a simple go through the website of FairPlay one can find online casino games, cricket betting offerings. It claims to be a company registered in Curacao, a Caribbean island that is a gambling haven. It is shocking that the government broadcaster has failed to undertake basic due diligence and is violating laws with sheer brazenness.

Yesterday, a promotional video on FairPlay News featured Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Mithali Raj, Saina Nehwal which could also possibly violate Indian laws.

As to the FairPlay, the illegal betting website became the official team sponsor for Srilankan national cricket team recently and signed up Eoin Morgan as global brand ambassador.

Surrogate advertising is a very common strategy used by online betting companies to advertise in countries where betting is illegal. In India, DafaNews, a surrogate of betting company Dafabet sponsors a few teams from Indian leagues like ISL and Pro Kabaddi.

To combat surrogate advertising, the Indian government released guidelines under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in June and defined “surrogate advertisement” as an advertisement for goods, products or services, whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods, product or service, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law. These guidelines prohibit surrogate advertisements. However, no action is reportedly taken by the government to combat surrogate advertising