Gaming industry in India also violates ASCI code: Manisha Kapoor

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Gaming firms in India are putting the blame for breaking advertising standards on offshore betting companies, but Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) claimed that not only offshore bettors violate these rules but Indian gaming brands are also to blame.

When it comes to the complaint report published semi-annually or yearly by the ASCI, the gaming industry continues to rank among the top five violating industries.

Even today, she continued, some gamers disregard the ASCI code and rules and choose to skip or rush through the disclaimer compared to the pace of the entire campaign.

Kapoor said, “It is a genuine challenge for the industry, and the gaming industry really needs to come together to follow the guidelines. While the offshore betting ads are a nuisance and the law will deal with the same, that is not the only problem.”

According to ASCI Complaints Insights 2021-22, which was published in June 2022, the gaming industry was responsible for 8% of all complaints that the self-regulatory body for advertising in India received.

Gaming-related complaints made up 4% of all complaints against ad-guideline violations, according to ASCI’s semi-annual complaints report, which was published in November of this year.

Several members of the Indian gaming industry have told that it is the offshore players who break the rules and criteria for advertisements, which hurts the overall Real Money Gaming industry.

CMO of Zupee, Gaurav Mehta, said, “There are a lot of offshore gambling sites under the guise of content sites, news sites, etc. who have been advertising massively on broadcast and on digital media and because they are based off-shore, they have not been following the guidelines in letter and in spirit with the country’s regulations.”

“If one actually looks at any of the big advertisers in the past few years from the RMG Sector, they have been marketing in a manner wherein they are disseminating information in the right manner and as prescribed by ASCI in the internal codes,” he added.

Chief Revenue Officer of Adda52, Krishnendu Guha stated, “one of the challenges of the modern-day gaming industry is that most of the foreign companies who are into RMG are capitalizing on the absence of a regulatory body in India and tweaking the rules to their advantage.”

“While a few players are violating the norms, the image of the whole online gaming industry is tarnished. Thus, the categorization of skill-based and chance-based games becomes highly crucial,” he added.

Kapoor responded that the ‘purely betting’ offshore gaming companies that broadcast in India are potentially in violation of the law, and it is up to the government and judiciary to decide if it is legal or not when asked whether it is the offshore players or the entire gaming industry, including Indian players, that continue to break the rules.

“But within the scope of ASCI, we do find that there are gaps in the way that the gaming industry implements the ad campaigns, and thus the industry should focus on taking its own share of responsibility and complying with the norms and ad guidelines that are applicable to them as well,” Kapoor added.

It should also be noted that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) also provided media platforms with advice in the form of advisory guidelines, instructing them to forgo airing advertisements for betting platforms on TV and in digital news publications.

According to the advisory, a number of online offshore betting firms have also turned to exploit news websites as surrogate products to promote themselves on digital media. Broadcasters that violate the rules risk facing legal repercussions.