MEITY bans domains of betting and gambling portals, leading news websites continue ad promotions

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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) yesterday banned nearly 200 domains pursuant to powers under the Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. All these domains are related to illegal offshore betting platforms or Chinese loan apps.

This is not the first time MEITY has swung into action to curb the menace of illegal gambling platforms. Earlier in October 2022, MEITY had banned domain names of several betting and gambling platforms.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) issued two advisories last year directing print, television, and digital media platforms to refrain from promoting or marketing illegal gambling platforms.

However, in the recent times, gambling platforms made their presence felt through advertisements in mainstream and digital media. In one case, Lotus365 a notorious gambling platform ran a full front page promotion in a leading newspaper. Lotus365 which is in the current list of platforms blocked, responded quickly by changing the domain name and in a way challenging the authorities.

Even though the fresh banning action came into force yesterday, several digital media platforms continued to occasionally display betting ads. In one case, ThePrint, a leading digital news portal was seen playing a promotional video of Fairplay featuring actress Tamanna.

Further, across metro cities the offshore gambling platforms continue to solicit users by outdoor advertising and onboarding through WhatsApp and Telegram messaging apps which are so far not banned.

Gambling and betting provide major financial and socioeconomic risks for consumers, particularly young people and children, according to an October 2022 advisory by MIB. As a result, it cautioned media agencies from using advertisements to promote offline or online betting or gambling.

The recently notified draft amendments to IT Intermediary Rules prohibits all kind of online gaming for stakes and envisage that an online gaming intermediary shall observe the due diligence required under the rules while discharging its duties, including reasonable efforts to cause its users not to host, display, upload, publish, transmit or share an online game not in conformity with Indian law. The final draft rules are yet to be notified. Government may also initiate action against the illegal gambling platforms once the final rules are notified.