Advertising by online gaming platforms

ASCI (Advertisements Standards Council of India) via its press release of November 24, 2020, presented Online Gaming Advertising Guidelines (hereinafter referred to as “Guidelines”) to provide a streamlined regulatory framework.

Read more about the guidelines here – ASCI India Online Gaming Advertisements

On December 04, 2020, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued a notice, in accordance with the Guidelines, to inform all television channel networks about this. According to the advisory opinion, advertisements on online games, fantasy sports, etc., appear to be misleading and not in accordance with the advertising code established under the Cable TV Network Act 1995 (Regulation) and of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Also read Everything you need to know about online gaming in India

REASONING:

According to ASCI, gambling ads target young people and families suggesting online gambling as a source of income. Since online gaming requires the inclusion of monetary funds, it comes with various elements of risk that can lead to financial loss. In addition, gaming advertisements completely eliminate any possibility of financial loss. Therefore, a standardized guideline was required for all online gaming platforms to address the addictive nature and raise awareness of the financial risks of such advertisements.

In view of the opinion and the reasoning, ASCI has proposed certain guidelines to ensure the transparency of the advertising of online gaming platforms and the protection of consumers which have been in effect since December 15, 2020.[1]

Also read the ASCI Online Games Advertising Guidelines

ASCI GUIDELINES ON ONLINE GAMES ADVERTISING

  1. No one under the age of 18 or who appears to be a minor will be depicted playing online games for real money winnings in game advertisements. Likewise, no gambling advertisement should suggest that such a person may also play such games. Therefore, prohibiting the representation of minors on game advertisements.
  2. Each game advertisement must include the following disclaimer:

“This game has an element of financial risk and can be addicting. Please play responsibly and at your own risk

  1. For print / static ads, the disclosure must occupy at least 20% of the space in the ad, contain the same language and font, not be italicized, and must be in the same direction as the majority of the text.
  2. For audio / video advertisements, the warning must be placed at a normal speaking pace at the end of the advertisement, contain the same language as the advertisement and must be in both audio and visual formats.
  3. No advertisements will present “online gambling for real money winnings” as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
  4. No advertisement should show that the person engaged in “online games for real money winnings” is more successful than others. Therefore, prohibiting the representation of the comparison of success through such games.

CONCLUSION:

The directives issued by ASCI must guarantee the benefit of viewers and compliance with the advertising code. Since the online gambling industry is growing rapidly in India, it is important that a framework of guidelines exists for regulation and public welfare. A self-regulatory body proposal for the online gaming industry was also mentioned in NITI Ayog’s draft report on “Guiding Principles for Nationally Uniform Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India” .[2] The guidelines should increase transparency and create a safer environment for consumers.

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