Lok Sabha: Central govt evades answer on legal status of online betting apps

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Central government on Wednesday evaded answer on the legal status of gambling applications actively promoted by celebrities on social media and electronic media platforms. The central government informed the Lok Sabha that regulation of “betting and gambling” falls under the executive powers of the state governments.

The Minister of State in Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology was responding to queries by Lok Sabha members on legal status of gambling which these days are promoted actively offline and online.

“Further, as per the provisions of article 162, matters related to betting and gambling lie within the executive power of the States,” the response read. The response also referred to article 246 under which powers are bifurcated between states and the union government.

The response also referred to recent implementation of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and the proposed rules for online games. But failed to answer how online gambling portals are able to promote with impunity despite the regulations prohibiting such advertisements and operations.

Earlier,  the Ministry has also issued an advisory to all private satellite television channels on “Advertisements on Online Games, Fantasy Sports, etc.‟, advising all broadcasters that the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India be complied with and that the advertisements broadcast on television adhere to the same.

After two strongly worded advisories in 2022, satellite television channels whose license to operate is issued under central laws have stopped broadcasting gambling ads.

But online media and social media where governing regulations are ambiguous continue to promote offshore gambling portals.

Central government agencies like Enforcement Directorate have in few cases attached bank accounts pertaining to illegal gambling portals but failed to take a concrete action to prevent the operation of these websites.