India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has written to Google requesting that the search engine stops displaying ‘surrogate ads of overseas betting companies’.
The latest crackdown on illegal online gambling has seen the ministry take aim at Google and YouTube ads for betting companies such as Fairplay, Betway, PariMatch, and 1xBet. The move follows a recent government request that broadcasters and video streaming services cease advertising gambling brands that are not licensed to operate in India.
According to local news reports, a spokesperson for the ministry confirmed that the letter sent to Google India requested that the company cease all direct and surrogate advertising for gambling companies on both Google and YouTube.
“After our last advisory on 3 October, TV channels and OTT players stopped showing surrogate ads of online betting firms, but it was brought to our notice that many such ads are running on YouTube and Google. We have asked Google to stop this immediately.”
The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) estimates that as much as INR 50 million (€577,722) is deposited each month into accounts belonging to multiple agents of the betting companies in question.
Surrogate news websites a major issue
According to the MIB, international betting companies are using news websites as surrogate platforms to advertise betting platforms on both Google and YouTube. In its findings, the MIB noted that even the logos of these news sites often bear a striking resemblance to the betting company’s logo.
Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF said that the most problematic aspect of these offshore websites is how they promote and advertise their illegal products to Indian consumers:
“They had been pushing incessant ads during telecasts of sporting events. Additionally, they have been using print and digital media along with sponsorships of sports teams, to further penetrate the psyche of the consumer. We even see prominent influencers with sports and entertainment backgrounds endorsing such.
The MIB and the ministry of consumer affairs have come out with strict advisories against direct advertisements and surrogate advertisements by offshore and illegal gambling websites. This has resulted in a significant reduction in offshore gambling ads.”