Mumbai, India — Cricket season is starting to heat up in India, as the Indian Premier League (IPL) has opened once again with its latest season kicking off in March. . With this, brands are now pumped up to make the best of the undivided attention from sports fans, specifically in the online real-money gaming industry, but most of these ads are not being thumbs-upped by ad watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
In the first week of the IPL alone, ASCI screened 35 ads from the category and identified 14 as being in potential violation of its code. ASCI is scrutinizing TV and OTT ads as well.
In addition, in March alone, 285 social media ads of online real-money gaming companies were identified as being in violation of the ASCI Code.
Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary-general of ASCI, said that ASCI is concerned to note that, despite clear guidelines, some online real-money gaming firms are attempting a shortcut. Kapoor added that in an industry that is under significant regulatory scrutiny, such acts by some companies paint the entire industry as irresponsible.
“IPL, being a massive platform, requires responsible behaviour from all parties – including gaming firms, broadcasters, celebrities and ad creators. We hope that all parties play their roles to ensure that consumers are not exposed to misleading advertising,” Kapoor said.
ASCI underscored that in some cases, dubious claims such as ‘India’s biggest 1st prize’ were being made, and in many cases, the disclaimer informing consumers of the risks was flashed very quickly rather than at a normal speaking pace. For others, the advertisements had celebrities acting while the disclaimer was being spoken, distracting consumers from important information about risks. Due to this, The council has urged gaming industry bodies to take up responsibility.
ASCI guidelines on real-money gaming came into effect on December 15, 2020. The guidelines require advertisements to not be aimed at minors, not present gaming as a source of livelihood or link it to success. In addition, the guidelines require all advertisements to carry a prominent disclaimer regarding the risk of financial loss and the addictive nature of such games. These guidelines were backed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which issued an advisory asking that advertisements adhere to the guidelines.