India Set for a Crackdown on Betting Advertising

Remember the date. June 13 - one that could well turn out to be significant for the Indian online gambling market in terms of progress and development for the future.

The government of India has announced that print and digital media platforms in the country will need to put a stop to advertising on their online gambling and betting websites in what is being viewed as a considerable move for the industry in the country.

A statement that was approved by India’s assistant director of digital media at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Kshitij Aggarwal, detailed the grey areas in which there was misinformation as to what is classed as legal and illegal across various states in the country.

Such is the widescale amount of illegal betting activity currently occurring across the Asian nation that this is effectively hard to police without a dedicated commission and thorough inspection of the market as a whole. It has led to advertisements being created that referred to activity deemed illegal in the majority of circumstances.

Considerable Risk Associated to Underage Gambling

Underlining the dangers that these advertisements can have, especially in reference to underage gambling and being in front of minors, Aggarwal was particularly vocal in highlighting the consequences that they could have.

In light of the above and having regard to the larger public interest involved, the print and electronic media are advised to refrain from publishing advertisements of online betting platforms.

The online and social media, including the online advertisement intermediaries and publishers, are advised not to display such advertisements in India or target such advertisements towards the Indian audience.

Kshitij AggarwalAssistant Director (Digital Media) at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Of course, this is not just about underage gambling, but the potential negative impact that these ads could have on other aspects of the community, including economic and social - both of these factors being particularly interlinked with the implications of gambling.

With a population of nearly 1.5 billion as of this year, it far exceeds any other country in terms of headcount (China being of a similar figure) and understandably being able to police such a large proportion of people (and even having the budget to), perhaps outlines the pressure being put on the Indian government.

Prohibiting gambling advertising is one thing and certainly a necessary first step. However, enforcing this could still prove difficult unless the consequences increase in severity. In most jurisdictions, heavy fines are issued to gambling companies that are seen as flouting legislation, and this could well be one route that the authorities take, though even this sometimes is not enough for wholesale prevention.

The State of Play in the Indian Online Gambling Market

Over the last few years, we have seen many different online gambling sites (especially smaller ones) enter states in India where this is deemed to be legal - or at least not classed as illegal.

It is in this particularly grey area where ambiguity has started to cause problems and where action needs to be taken in order to help combat dangers that may exist. Almost on a monthly basis, illegal gambling rings are identified and infiltrated, with the perpetrators suffering heavy consequences.

In those states where it is legal - Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra, there are quite a few reasons to suggest why this is not the case in other states. Each of these can be praised for the infrastructure that they have in place, especially broadband quality, capable of servicing the industry in the country - a very important factor. Telecommunications in these states are also well thought of - hosting global businesses that can adequately support the considerable demand.

Even online gambling sites that operate in these states face such advertising scrutiny previously referred to, though they are much savvier and more professional when it comes to understanding the industry and what is required.

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