Government asks private television channels to follow ASCI guidelines on online gaming and fantasy sports

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued an advisory asking all private television broadcasters to follow guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for advertisements relating to online gaming, fantasy sports, and alike.

The ministry has advised that the advertisements should not promote any activity prohibited by statute or law. According to the advisory, a large number of advertisements on online gaming and fantasy sports have been appearing on the television.

Concerns were expressed that such advertisements appear to be misleading, do not correctly convey to the customers the financial and other risks associated, thereof, are not in strict conformity with the Advertising Code laid down under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The advisory has been issued after a consultation meeting held by MIB with the officials and representatives of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, ASCI, News Broadcasters Association, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, All India Gaming Federation, Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, and the Online Rummy Federation.

ASCI guidelines require that every such gaming advertisement must carry the disclaimer: This game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk. Such a disclaimer should occupy at least 20 percent of the advertisement space.

The guidelines also state that gaming advertisements cannot depict users under the age of 18 years as engaged in playing a game of online gaming for real money winnings or suggest that such users can play these games.

The advertisements should neither suggest that online gaming presents an income generating opportunity as an alternative to employment nor depict a person playing such games is more successful than others.

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