Govt cracks whip on misleading gaming ads on TV channels

First Published Dec 4, 2020, 10:03 PM IST

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued advisory to all private satellite channels on regulating advertisements related to online gaming and fantasy sports. The Centre's advisory comes after deliberations on concerns that such advertisements appear to be misleading and not in conformity with the advertising code.

<p>The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued advisory to all private satellite channels on regulating advertisements related to online gaming and fantasy sports. The Centre's advisory comes after deliberations on concerns that such advertisements appear to be misleading and not in conformity with the advertising code.</p>

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued advisory to all private satellite channels on regulating advertisements related to online gaming and fantasy sports. The Centre's advisory comes after deliberations on concerns that such advertisements appear to be misleading and not in conformity with the advertising code.

<p>There were also concerns that such advertisements do not correctly convey to the consumers the financial and other risks associated with their participation. The I&amp;B advisory noted that channels will have to comply with the new guidelines framed by the Advertising Standards Council of India to ensure that such advertising makes users aware about financial and other risks that are associated with playing online games with real money winnings.&nbsp;</p>

There were also concerns that such advertisements do not correctly convey to the consumers the financial and other risks associated with their participation. The I&B advisory noted that channels will have to comply with the new guidelines framed by the Advertising Standards Council of India to ensure that such advertising makes users aware about financial and other risks that are associated with playing online games with real money winnings. 

<p>Citing a KPMG study, the ASCI observed that India being a mobile-first country, more than 90% of online gamers play games on their phones. The online gaming market, worth more than $500 million now, could be worth $1.1 billion by 2021. In 2019, around 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India -- the highest in the world and representing nearly 13% of gaming apps globally. Internet penetration in India is 31% and according to KMPG it is expected to reach 53% by 2021 -- which would give over 700 million people access to the Internet and its wealth of gaming options.</p>

Citing a KPMG study, the ASCI observed that India being a mobile-first country, more than 90% of online gamers play games on their phones. The online gaming market, worth more than $500 million now, could be worth $1.1 billion by 2021. In 2019, around 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India -- the highest in the world and representing nearly 13% of gaming apps globally. Internet penetration in India is 31% and according to KMPG it is expected to reach 53% by 2021 -- which would give over 700 million people access to the Internet and its wealth of gaming options.

<p>Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General of ASCI, said: "We have observed gaming advertisements target youth and families by suggesting that these can become sources of income and livelihood for them. We have noted concerns about such advertisements, both from consumers as well as the government. The key fact that is completely suppressed in most of these advertisements is the real possibility of losing money.</p>

Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General of ASCI, said: "We have observed gaming advertisements target youth and families by suggesting that these can become sources of income and livelihood for them. We have noted concerns about such advertisements, both from consumers as well as the government. The key fact that is completely suppressed in most of these advertisements is the real possibility of losing money.

<p>"The frequent use of celebrities in many of these advertisements make them more attractive to consumers, and consumers tend to trust their heroes and role models blindly. Combined with the fact that these games are highly addictive, these advertisements end up being not just misleading, but also harmful to individuals and society. And therefore, they are violative of the ASCI code."</p>

"The frequent use of celebrities in many of these advertisements make them more attractive to consumers, and consumers tend to trust their heroes and role models blindly. Combined with the fact that these games are highly addictive, these advertisements end up being not just misleading, but also harmful to individuals and society. And therefore, they are violative of the ASCI code."

<p>The rapid growth, and the real danger of the negative impacts of real-money game advertisements, prompted ASCI to develop advertising guidelines which include:</p>

<p><br />
* No gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years, or who appears to be under the age of 18, engaged in playing a game of online gaming for real money winnings or suggest that such persons can play these games</p>

<p><br />
* Every such gaming advertisement must carry the following disclaimer that the game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive and that they should play responsibly and at their own risk</p>

<p><br />
* The advertisements should not present 'Online gaming for real money winnings' as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.&nbsp;</p>

<p><br />
* The advertisement should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others.</p>

The rapid growth, and the real danger of the negative impacts of real-money game advertisements, prompted ASCI to develop advertising guidelines which include:


* No gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years, or who appears to be under the age of 18, engaged in playing a game of online gaming for real money winnings or suggest that such persons can play these games


* Every such gaming advertisement must carry the following disclaimer that the game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive and that they should play responsibly and at their own risk


* The advertisements should not present 'Online gaming for real money winnings' as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option. 


* The advertisement should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others.

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