For several decades now, cricket matches across the globe are seen as advertisers’ gold mine. Be it sponsorships, barricades on the cricket field or intervals after every over during a match telecast, big brands have always seen cricket matches as an opportunity to get noticed.
Cricket tournaments in India have been a great ad space for everything from motorbikes to tyres, mobile phones and recently, mutual funds. However, the recent India-Australia series saw a new trend in the world of advertisements: over the last two to three months, the audience in India have seen ads for Betway and Dafabet, two online international sports betting companies.
The ads of Malta-registered Betway and Philippines-based Dafabet were shown during the live streaming of the series between India and Australia on SonyLIV, the online streaming service of the tour’s official broadcaster, Sony Pictures Network.
Are these Advertisements allowed in India?
The Ministry of Information & Broadcast (MIB) has banned television channels from showing advertisements of sports betting companies. However, this is an undefined area for streaming platforms.
With streaming services, the advertisers may have found a loophole because these advertisements have only been featured on the sonyLIV streaming platform, not cable or satellite channels. SonyLIV has refused to respond to queries raised by the media.
Experts have flagged concerns saying that the advertisements shown on SonyLIV violate the The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines, which state that “advertisements shall not propagate products or services, the use of which is banned under the law”. ASCI had said their guidelines apply to the content of advertisements of real-money gaming that appear on any platform, including streaming services like SonyLIV.
This boils down to the question – ‘Is sports betting banned as per the Indian laws?’. Laws governing online betting in India have always been vague. In India, sports betting/gambling are state subjects. The Centre does not even have the legislative capacity needed to block online betting websites.
Earlier this year, multiple states including Andhra Pradesh had passed ordinances banning online gambling specifically. However, it is not only possible for Indian users to access online betting websites but they can also register themselves on it to place bets online using Indian bank accounts.
What’s next for Online betting sites advertisements?
The question that still remains is – will online betting sites be allowed to advertise on streaming sites in India?
The issue of betting brands advertising in cricket competitions has been quite a controversial one, with some parts of the population holding the opinion that they should be allowed. In contrast, others antagonise the concept and call for a total ban on betting advertisements. The final decision on the issue is still awaited from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
While the advertisements of online betting sites has become a matter of debate, the betting sites have managed to grab attention for sure. And that was probably the whole intention behind the advertisements in the first place.