Mumbai, October 3: The Narendra Modi-led government on Monday issued advisories to news websites, OTT platforms and private satellite television channels, asking them to refrain from carrying advertisements of online betting platforms. "It was observed that promotional content and advertisements of betting platforms are still visible on certain digital news platforms and OTT platforms. Some online offshore betting portals have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise betting platforms on digital media," the Centre said in its advisory.

The Advisories were supplemented with evidence which contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet. The Centre categorically asked the news websites and OTT platforms to refrain from broadcasting advertisements of such betting platforms or their surrogate news websites. Betting Sites Ads: Centre Asks News Websites, TV Channels To Refrain From Carrying Advertisements of Offshore Betting Sites.

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Why Centre Issues Advisory on Ban on Betting Platforms Ads?

While the Centre warned news websites, OTTs, and private channels against online betting ads, this is not the first time action was taken against betting ads. In June this year, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) issued an advisory to print, electronic and digital media to refrain from advertising online betting platforms.

“The advertisements of online betting are misleading and do not appear to be in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995, and advertisement norms under the Norms of Journalistic Conduct laid down by the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act, 1978,” the Centre had said in a statement. Porn Website Ban: 63 Pornographic Websites Blocked in India; Check Full List Here.

However, finding a loophole in the advisory, these betting platforms set up blogs and news websites where one can read sports news and articles such as football, cricket, kabaddi, and others. They also offer match predictions and tips, to aid them in surrogate advertising. Under the cover of news and articles, these websites or blogs promote betting and gambling as surrogate advertising. Under the garb of news, these platforms are trying to gain a foothold in India.

During the Asia Cup 2022, an image of Yuvraj Singh flashed on the screens. The former India cricketer was promoting a professional sports blog, 1xBet. Similarly, several celebrities promoted such betting websites through surrogate advertisements.

The sites are heavily advertised on TV and Digital News Platforms as news and sports blogs but a simple Google search on their brand names lands on their betting portals.

Watch Video of FairPlay Ad

Screenshot of Google Search

Fairplay News (Photo Credits: Google Search Screengrab)

Another Google Search Result

Parimatch (Photo Credits: Google Search Screengrab)

What is Surrogate Advertising?

Surrogate advertising is a form of advertising which is used to promote highly regulated or banned products in the disguise of another product. Surrogate advertising is used when a product cannot be advertised openly, is masqueraded as a sub-product. In the past, we have seen quite a few examples of alcoholic beverage brands selling music CDs, glassware, and packaged drinking water.

With betting and gambling illegal in most parts of India, the Centre has warned that contravention/violation of the advisory against ads of betting websites may invite penal action under the applicable laws.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 03, 2022 10:15 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website