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India, Offshore Gambling


In a recent development, India’s ministry of information and broadcasting has issued a stern caution to celebrities and influencers, advising them against promoting offshore online gambling entities on social media platforms. The ministry emphasised the potential consequences, stating that individuals engaging in such activities could face severe penal action.

According to the advisory, individuals wielding influence in India are expressly prohibited from endorsing illegal gambling platforms through indirect means. Those found violating this directive risk subjecting themselves to intense scrutiny and subsequent legal proceedings.

Under the prevailing regulatory framework, the Indian government holds the authority to issue notifications to intermediaries, including social media platforms, urging them to remove any content advertising illicit gambling operators.

Moreover, celebrities and influencers could find themselves entangled in legal proceedings under the purview of the 2019 Consumer Protection Act. Penalties may extend to the disabling of social media accounts, with further punitive measures being applicable under relevant statutes.

The advisory underscored the gravity of the situation by highlighting the significant financial and socio-economic ramifications associated with online betting, thus urging against the promotion of offshore operators.

This warning comes on the heels of a recent advisory issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), addressing the surge in influencer marketing of illegal gambling activities. The government has consistently issued advisories to social media platforms, cautioning against the promotion of betting platforms, which remain illegal in many regions of India under the Public Gambling Act 1867.

The CCPA emphasised that celebrities endorsing gambling activities inadvertently normalise and promote illegal behaviour, rendering them equally culpable for any resulting infractions.

India’s Regulatory Landscape and Recent Initiatives

India’s regulatory efforts in the gambling sector gained momentum with the publication of new rules in January aimed at overseeing online gambling activities. The regulations stipulated that online games must comply with existing laws and proposed the establishment of self-regulatory bodies comprising online gaming businesses. These bodies would be entrusted with formulating industry rules and regulations, with a focus on player protection, addiction prevention, financial crime mitigation, and safeguarding minors.

Despite these regulatory efforts, a recent study conducted by Ken Research revealed a concerning lack of awareness among online gamblers regarding industry regulations. A significant portion of online gamblers in India reported encountering various challenges, ranging from identity theft to transaction-related issues, due to the use of unregulated operators.

In a bid to curb the activities of offshore operators, the Indian government took decisive action in November, issuing blocking orders against 22 betting apps and websites deemed to be operating illegally.

The government’s proactive measures underscore its commitment to combating illegal gambling activities and safeguarding the interests of Indian citizens.

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