77% consumers want fantasy gaming advertisements banned: Survey

The survey also assumes importance as IPL, India's largest sporting event, kicks off with fantasy gaming startup Dream11 as its title sponsor. | Photo: Shutterstock
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has brought cheer not just to cricket fans but also to fantasy sports apps, which are doling out new offers and have bumped up their marketing spends to woo users.

However, such advertising and marketing campaigns might not be going down well with people, shows a survey by community platform LocalCircles. LocalCircles received over 110,000 responses from consumers on the issue of advertising by gaming platforms.

Most consumers were unhappy with ads from gaming platforms, especially those that were similar to gambling and where individuals stood to win or lose money. Around 77 per cent of the consumers wanted the government to ban advertisements from such gaming platforms; 18 per cent were okay with such ads; and 5 per cent were unsure. This particular poll received 7,293 responses.

The company stated that “…many teenagers, youth and even professionals seem to have got addicted to such sites and apps and are losing a lot of money of their own and their parents, sometimes even without their knowledge and permission”.

The survey comes at a time when the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) has issued draft guidelines for preventing unfair trade practices and protecting consumers’ interest. The draft guidelines state that endorsements must be based on either adequate information about or experience with the service or product being endorsed.

LocalCircles has submitted this feedback to the MCA as inputs for the draft advertising code and has requested the ministry to consider the consumer response seeking a ban on advertising by gaming platforms.

The survey assumes significance as the IPL, India’s largest sporting event, began on Saturday with fantasy gaming startup Dream11 as its title sponsor. Also, Paytm and its gaming arm, Paytm First Games, ran into trouble on Friday for reportedly violating Google Playstore’s gambling policies. While the payments app returned, Paytm First Games is still missing from the Playstore.

“Online gaming is a grey area. If the element of skill is higher, then it is legal. It is illegal if the element of chance is higher,” says Salman Waris, managing partner at TechLegis Advocates and Solicitors. “However, there is no Supreme Court judgment with regard to online games involving sports betting, and, hence, there is no pan-India judgment. High court judgments apply only to states in which they operate.”

Even though sports betting is considered illegal in the country, a 2017 judgment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled that playing fantasy game involved superior knowledge, judgment and attention. The court held that “the element of skill” had a predominant influence on the outcome of such games. This judgment was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.

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