India to crack down on illegal gambling apps amid increased interest in online betting

India to crack down on illegal gambling apps amid increased interest in online betting
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The Ministry of Consumer Affairs in India is reportedly seeking action against indirect and surrogate advertisements that promote illegal betting and gambling. The move comes in response to the increased use of betting apps amid the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Lok Sabha general elections in the country.

According to sources cited by Livemint, the government aims to crack down on indirect and surrogate ads, as they are in violation of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) guidelines.

The Centre has directed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) to identify violators and take appropriate legal action against them.This includes imposing penalties and banning the operations of betting and gambling apps.

Earlier in March, the CCPA issued an advisory with directives against increased instances of direct as well as surrogate advertisement and endorsements of activities that are considered illegal. At the time,Meity also directed celebrities and influencers to refrain from advertising offshore online gambling operators on social media, noting they could face penal action for doing so.

Under the Public Gambling Act of 1867, betting and gambling are prohibited in most parts of India. Despite regulations, online betting platforms continue to advertise their services, which leads to concerns about the financial and socio-economic implications, especially among the youth.

The report showed estimates per which India's gaming market is expected to reach $3.1 billion in FY23. It is further projected to grow to a whopping $7.5 billion by FY28. India is the second-largest gaming market, with 15.4 billion game downloads in FY23, with China being the largest

"We don’t want to regulate regulators. Online gaming falls under MeitY's purview, so we have asked them to review compliance issues with gaming apps and prepare a list of violators and the trend of its users," one of two people told the above-cited publication.

After reviewing compliance adherence, a stakeholder consultation will be conducted to get feedback from online gaming platforms regarding the need for stricter rules.The target audience is intended to be protected from addiction and debt traps as a result of gambling.

The ministry is also supporting Bengaluru's National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) to conduct a study on disruptive impulse control behavioral patterns of online gaming that may cause vulnerabilities.

The findings of the research will be used to frame guidelines for protecting consumers in online gaming, the source informed the publication, stating that the report will also help the industry ensure the optimum use of technology to minimize risk.

The ongoing study aims to develop a predictive and preemptive model to protect the increasing number of digital consumers in the realm of online gaming on the internet.
Meity has scrapped the idea of a self-regulatory body for online gaming and is now working on establishing an independent regulator. The regulator would allow only registered entities to offer e-gaming services in India.