India Plans Crackdown on Illegal Betting and Gambling Apps

May 13, 2024 | illegal gambling

New Delhi, India (May 13, 2024) —  According to local media reports, the consumer affairs ministry has sought action against indirect and surrogate advertisements promoting illegal betting and gambling – on the rise in the cricket and election season.

The Centre wants a crackdown as these ads are in clear violation of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) guidelines, two people aware of the matter said.

Indian business and financial daily newspaper ‘Live Mintreports this move comes in response to the widespread use of betting apps, particularly during events, including Indian Premier League (IPL) and general elections, despite clear guidelines prohibiting such activities.

Identifying violators

The consumer affairs ministry has written to the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) to identify all violators and take appropriate legal action, including imposing penalties and banning the operations of betting and gambling apps.

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

According to estimates, India’s gaming market is expected to reach $3.1 billion in FY23 and is projected to grow to $7.5 billion by FY28. India is the second-largest gaming market, with 15.4 billion game downloads in FY23. The largest is China.

Regulating regulators

“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 cited above said.

After reviewing compliance adherence, a stakeholder consultation would be held to seek comments from online gaming platforms for strengthening regulations. This is aimed at protecting the targeted audience from addiction and falling into debt traps.

Queries sent to the secretaries and spokespersons of both ministries went unanswered.

Risks galore

Online gaming carries risks such as addiction, health problems from prolonged screen time, social isolation, financial loss due to in-game purchases, privacy and security concerns, cyberbullying, and negative influence from violent or aggressive games.

“Betting through online gaming apps is a serious issue, and the Consumer Affairs Ministry should take a strong stance on it. Betting apps are preying on vulnerable individuals, and the CCPA should implement stricter regulations to protect consumers and address their concerns. The surrogate advertising to catch unaware consumers as detected by ASCI every month needs to be tackled with a firm stand, specially the overseas operators ” ‘Live Mint‘ reported Ashim Sanyal, CEO and secretary, Consumer Voice said.

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.

Framing guidelines

“The findings of the research will be used to frame guidelines for protecting consumers in online gaming,” the second person said, adding 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. This regulator will permit only registered entities to offer e-gaming services in India.

SOURCE: Live Mint.

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