Illegal online casinos flood news websites with sponsored posts

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The global betting and gambling industry is estimated to be over US$ 218 billion. The betting and gambling industry thrived worldwide during Covid19 induced lockdown. In India, when most of the industries were suffering heavy losses, online gaming was at an all-time high.  

But gambling (differentiated from gaming) is illegal in the whole country of India except in states like Goa, Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Daman that require operators to obtain a specific license. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 or similar laws operational in the states prohibits all games of chance that illegal online casinos offer. However, this did not prohibit online casinos with licenses from Malta, European, Caribbean countries to operate in India with shady structures. The law enforcement department has adopted a more lenient attitude towards online casinos given the complexity in finding the real culprits.

Recently, the casino operators have resorted to providing promoted content to news websites making it look as if online casinos are legal in India. The news websites that promote illegal online casinos include Live Mint, India Today, The News Minute (TNM) among others.

TNM alone posted more than 10 posts in the last two months promoting illegal casinos painting a rosy picture of online casinos and promising readers huge sums of money. The irony is TNM proactively covers suicides arising due to online gambling in the South Indian States.

No editorial policy? Few posts promoting online gambling by TNM do not even have a partner tag or promoted content. The posts do not warn users of the legality of online casinos.

These casino websites often change the payment details like UPI and bank accounts to avoid scrutiny. But it is still a mystery how they are managing the banks which are extra cautious with retail customers.  

To clarify to our readers, online casinos are illegal in India. Users may also note that they may not have any legal recourse in India in case of any fraud, non-payment of winnings by these betting apps.