Ads Related to Cryptos, Online Real-Money Gaming Under ASCI Fire

ASCI report says crypto and online real-money gaming categories were among top violators of ad rules in 2021-22.
Ads Related to Cryptos, Online Real-Money Gaming Under ASCI Fire

Advertisements related to cryptocurrencies and online gaming involving real money were among the top five categories in terms of the number of complaints filed against them with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory organisation for the advertising industry in India. Also most of these ads needed modification.

The ASCI Annual Complaints Report 2021-2022, which was released on June 28, examined 5,532 advertisements—across mediums including print, digital and television—to spot cases of violations.

About 16 per cent of all complaints were against crypto and online gaming ads (8 per cent each). Moreover, the percentage of ads that needed modification was as high as 95 per cent for virtual digital assets and 94 per cent for online gaming.

According to ASCI CEO Manisha Kapoor, the criteria for online real-money gaming advertisements came into force in December 2020.

“We saw the maximum number of violations in the digital medium (across all categories),” says Kapoor.

Reacting to the ASCI report, gaming industry experts said that the Indian gaming sector is outperforming its peers at the global level and in this high-growth environment, lawmakers and regulators have to protect consumers. “The ASCI guidelines against offshore online gambling advertising is a step in the right direction, but they ignore certain problems that domestic online real-money faming companies face," says Vishal Gondal, founder, nCORE Games, a mobile gaming company based in Bengaluru. 

“ASCI should take a more proactive stance in protecting the consumers and the youth from the associated evils of betting/gambling, seen in high levels across domestic real money gaming firms,” he adds.  

Advertisements promoting real-money online games such as rummy, poker and fantasy sports have also come under fire for being deceptive and endangering users.

Tushar Gandotra, founder and CEO, FiEx, a Gurugram-based gaming company, believes that there is a need to involve the entire ecosystem of the gaming industry so that a holistic framework can be developed to guide the industry on various aspects of doing business, including advertising and promotion among the target audiences.  

Misrepresenting reality and violating standard guidelines may impact the trust of existing as well as prospective users, says Archana Sangaran, Head of Marketing, FanClash, a Fantasy gaming company. 

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 online gaming advertisements were found to have violated advertising standards, ASCI had highlighted in April 2022. During the first week of IPL, from March 26 to April 3, 35 TV advertisements from the online gaming sector were screened. ASCI found that 14 violated its policy. 

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