I&B Ministry’s warnings on gambling ads to impact advertising sector revenues

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has instructed OTT, TV and other media platforms to refrain from advertising/promoting offshore gambling companies twice in four months.

Many offshore companies like 1xBet, Fairplay News, PariMatch, Betway and Wolf 777 allegedly use surrogate advertisements to promote gambling via various media platforms even when gambling is not allowed in most parts of the country.

The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has estimated that this offshore gambling business has grown into more than 5 lakh crore worth of business in India. Furthermore, the CEO of AIGF, Roland Landers, said, “These gambling sites are spending at least 3,500 crore annually in advertisements and promotions. They are in direct touch with the TV and OTT channels pumping huge ad money to lure youngsters into making quick money through gambling“.

Alongside the 3,500 crore spent on advertisements and promotions, another 500 crore is spent on celebrities and influencers to endorse their platforms, making it a total of around 4,000 crore spent by these companies.

Shanu Jain, VP of Media Planning & Strategy of Dentsu Creative India, said, “Betting apps are one of the top advertisers during any big sporting events in India, contributing anywhere between 20-25 per cent to the overall spends. If betting apps are not allowed to advertise, we will see an estimated 5-7% impact on India’s overall AdEx.” Other experts also expect a loss on AdEx but only about 1000 crore.

Fairplay news is one of the most advertised platforms by celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor and Kiara Advani and sports personalities like Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Mithali Raj, Sunil Narine, and Eoin Morgan; however, the parent site of Fairplay is an online gambling platform.

Similarly, 1xBet has been banned in many countries, but the 1xBet sports blog was endorsed on Tv during the Asia Cup cricket tournament by cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina earlier this year.

Shanu Jain also noted that these apps mainly focused on betting on the live matches that everyone widely watches through their OTT and TV services, so these platforms are perfect to advertise.

Landers also said, “Sports channels, both TV and OTT, generally belong to big networks. They are expected to do due diligence before running any content on their platforms. On the contrary, they are collecting ad revenue from betting companies by directly dealing with them. If you investigate further, you may unearth the scam”.