The Indian government has recently intensified its crackdown on gambling and betting platforms by asking state governments to take action against outdoor advertisements. The move comes in response to the increasing prevalence of such advertisements on hoardings, banners, and auto-rickshaws.
In a letter addressed to the chief secretaries of states and Union territories, Information and Broadcasting secretary Apurva Chandra urged them to take “appropriate action” to curb the proliferation of such advertisements. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had already issued advisories to private television channels, digital news publishers, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms to refrain from publishing and broadcasting advertisements of such platforms.
The government’s move is not surprising given the recent surge in online gambling and betting in India. The pandemic-induced lockdowns have led to a significant increase in online activities, including gambling and betting. According to industry estimates, the online gaming industry in India is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.1%.
However, the rise of online gambling and betting has also given rise to concerns about its social and economic impact. Experts have warned that online gambling and betting can lead to addiction, debt, and other negative consequences. Moreover, there are concerns about the potential for money laundering and other financial crimes associated with online gambling and betting.
The government’s crackdown on outdoor advertisements of gambling and betting platforms is, therefore, a welcome step in the right direction. It sends a clear message that the government is committed to curbing the negative impact of online gambling and betting. However, it is just the first step in a long journey towards regulating and managing the online gambling and betting industry in India.
The government needs to take a holistic approach to regulating the online gambling and betting industry. It should focus not only on curbing the negative impact of these activities but also on creating a regulatory framework that ensures transparency, fairness, and consumer protection. Some of the key areas that need attention include:
- Licensing and regulation: The government needs to establish a licensing and regulatory framework that sets out the rules and standards for online gambling and betting platforms. This framework should cover issues such as the types of games that can be offered, the fairness of the games, the protection of customer data, and the prevention of money laundering and other financial crimes.
- Consumer protection: The government needs to ensure that consumers are protected from fraud, deception, and other harmful practices. This could include measures such as mandatory disclosures of the odds of winning, clear and transparent terms and conditions, and effective dispute resolution mechanisms.
- Responsible gambling: The government needs to promote responsible gambling practices and educate consumers about the potential risks of online gambling and betting. This could include measures such as self-exclusion programs, responsible gaming tools, and awareness campaigns.
- Taxation: The government needs to ensure that the online gambling and betting industry contributes to the economy through taxation. This could include measures such as a tax on gross gaming revenue or a licensing fee for operators.