India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued warning to television channels and digital news publishers not to show advertisements for online betting websites, including ads for news sites owned by betting brands.
Gambling and betting – illegal in India
While sports betting has become a popular pastime in some parts of the world, betting and gambling remain illegal throughout most of India. There has been some push by proponents in India to legalize gambling for economic reasons, but all forms of gambling currently remain forbidden in the country, with the exception of several casinos in tourist hotels in Goa, Sikkim, Daman, and Diu. There are no sports betting suppliers that currently operate from within India.
Figure 1: Betting Ad
Ministry advisories disregarded
Indian authorities have declared any advertising of online betting and gambling to be prohibited. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently issued two advisories requesting that private television channels, digital news publishers, and over-the-top (OTT) media platforms refrain from running ads for online betting sites because they pose a serious financial and socio-economic risk for consumers, particularly youth and children. According to the advisories, the promotion of online betting and gambling through advertisements is not advised in larger public interest.
Figure 2: EPL Betting Ad
Despite this, the Ministry has seen promotional content and advertisements for betting platforms on news and OTT platforms. Some online offshore betting platforms have started using news websites as a surrogate product to advertise betting and gambling, taking advantage of the gray area of internet advertising to promote their illegal services. The images of Indian celebrities are also being leveraged by these advertisers, who use them to give legitimacy to gambling companies.
Figure 3: Betting Ads Served Across India
Indian publishers at risk
Publishers caught advertising or promoting betting and gambling in India face serious fines. Trying to filter such ads only by blocking them on the ad server is ineffective because categories are self-declared by the advertisers themselves.
The Indian government has recently begun cracking down on this breach of the law. Manisha Kapoor, chief executive officer of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) stated, “We have seen such [gambling and betting] advertising on cricket platforms and in casual gaming apps. Since these are in potential breach of the law, broadcasters and platforms must be careful of the regulations that govern them.” She added that such ads harm consumers and also damage the reputation of platforms and channels who accept such ads, and reiterated the hope that the advisories act as deterrents given that a clear penal action has been indicated.
Now that these latest regulations are out, advertisers are expected to change their declarations to enable them to pass through ad servers. Gambling and betting ads will continue to be served freely, and they’ll go under the radar using innocuous declared categories that won’t raise any alarm bells.
Real-Time Ad Quality Protection
Indian publishers who seek to protect themselves and their users from inappropriate, illegal gambling and betting advertisements will have to take a proactive approach. GeoEdge is the ad quality protection solution that doesn’t compromise. Our Automatic Content Filtering lets publishers eliminate any vertical they deem problematic for any reason. GeoEdge’s proprietary ad content classification system disregards advertisers’ self-declared categories, so problematic ads can’t sneak through. Over 450 global publishers and platforms already partner with GeoEdge to protect their ad inventory.
GeoEdge’s real-time ad blocking utilizes a machine learning-based Image Recognition engine, Optical Character Recognition, and text analysis. Publishers who use a combination of Ad Server blocking and GeoEdge blocking have found it the most effective way to avoid ads of any category or vertical, including online gambling and betting sites.
Ad server blocking alone is not enough. Not only are consumers harmed by online gambling and betting ads, publishers’ reputations suffer lasting damage as well. To safeguard your users and preserve your brand’s good name, turn to GeoEdge, the ad quality partner you can rely on.
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