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Google and digital news websites continue to promote gambling & betting ads despite MIB advisories

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Online betting and gambling promotions continue to be unabated despite two advisories from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) since June last year. While television broadcasters have stopped airing these ads, digital news websites still continue to promote betting and gambling advertisements.

An illegal casino ad on India.com

Television broadcasters are required to abide to Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules made thereunder while digital news websites do not have a specific regulatory laws. Even the digital wings of television broadcasters appear to exploit this lacunae in the law to promote betting brands on their websites while stopping to air them on their television channels.Tv9, Forbes, Zee owned India.com, Reliance owned News18 were seen promoting gambling and betting advertisements on their digital platforms in recent times.

Screenshot of a gambling advertisement on Forbes which featured Virat Kohli and other leading cricketers.

Search engine giant which in December said it doesn’t permit gambling advertisements continues to permit gambling advertisements in its search adverts. In most cases, the ads on the digital media portals are through Google Adsense or Ad Exchange which signifies the role of the search engine giant in aiding the penetration of illegal betting and gambling brands in the country.

A search ad on Google which leads to illegal betting platforms. 19 February 2022

Beyond digital media, the illegal platforms have also opted for outdoor advertising to which law enforcement across the states appear to be sleeping.

Further, several celebrities continue to promote these brands on social media despite the requirement to not promote anything illegal under the consumer protection laws. Recently, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members have demanded the state government to initiate action against several film actors for promoting and advertising online gambling and rummy in Maharashtra.

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