Despite multiple advisories from the central government, Telugu celebrities continue to promote illegal betting platforms with impunity.
BigBoss Telugu season 5 finalist was recently seen promoting an illegal gambling platform and making absurd claims of buying a Ferrari through gambling on the platform. Tollywood actresses Ritu Verma (2.2 million followers) and Nivetha Pithuraj (4 million followers) continue to promote notorious offshore betting platform Lotus 365 on the Instagram.
It also startling that these celebrities continue illegal app promotions even as Enforcement Directorate tightens the investigation on Mahadev Book. ED has summoned in several Bollywood celebrities including Shraddha Kapoor for investigation even as Tollywood celebrities continue with the promotions.
It is also notable that Telugu states prohibit all kinds of gaming for stakes and there have been instances of local police booking cases against the operators.
The promotions are primarily targeted at youth between the age groups 18-38 years. One youth that G2G spoke to says several of his acquaintance lost several lakhs after getting introduced to online gambling platforms through Instagram posts.
The Consumer Affairs ministry issued guidelines under Consumer Protection Act that prohibited surrogate advertising which is normally adopted by offshore betting websites. The guidelines and regulations issued under the Consumer Protection Act are applicable to celebrities like Ritu Verma, Nivetha Pithuraj who promote illegal websites.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) did send notices to Bollywood actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Urvashi Rautela for promoting illegal platforms but Tollywood celebrities off the radar continue to promote illegal platforms.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY) has banned over 100 domains of these illegal betting platforms. Despite that, these operators have been hopping domains and continuing their operations.