The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) yesterday issued an advisory to Private Satellite TV channels on advertisements on Online Gaming and Fantasy Sports noting that a large number of advertisements related to them were airing on television which appeared to be misleading and not conveying correctly to the consumers the financial and other risks associated in violation of the advertising code laid under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) accordingly along with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology convened a stakeholders consultative meeting on 18.11.2020 with Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), News Broadcasters Association (NBA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and the Online Rummy Federation (ORF),” read the advisory.
ASCI on 24th November issued the guidelines effective December 15, 2020 after discussion and consultation for the benefit of the advertisers and broadcasters to ensure that the advertisements are transparent and protect consumers. The Ministry has directed the broadcasters to comply with the ASCI guidelines and ensure that the advertisements broadcasted on television adhere to the aforementioned guidelines of ASCI.
ASCI’s new guidelines state that no gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years or who appears to be under the age of 18 engaged in playing a game of Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings. Each gaming advertisement is to be encoded with a print-static disclaimer that the game is maybe addictive and involves an element of financial risk occupying no less than 20 percent of the advertisement. They should also have an audio/video disclaimer stating “This game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk.”
The advertisements should neither present ‘Online gaming for real money winnings’ as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option. The same should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is any more successful as compared to others.