The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) continued its watchfulness of the booming industries in the country as it launched its first-ever detailed guidelines to make real-money gaming advertising safer and more responsible. Since the lockdown and the raging pandemic began, the online gaming industry has seen an incredible growth and almost disproportionate surge.
This set of guidelines by ASCI have been developed to ensure that such advertising makes users aware of financial and other risks that are associated with playing online games with real money winnings. The new guidelines will seek to comprehensively address the growing concerns about the potentially misleading and harmful advertisements in the sector and will come into effect from 15th December 2020.
The rapid growth of the industry and the possible pitfalls of real money gaming ads (RMG) have made the ASCI keep a close eye and develop advertising guidelines so that viewers are aware of the financial and addictions risks associated with RMG. One such instance is that gaming adverts target youth and families, hinting that these games can become genuine sources of income and livelihood for them without telling them about the associated risks and commitments.
The list of new rules
- As per the newly laid set of guidelines, no gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years, or who appears to be under the age of 18, engaged in playing a game of online gaming for real money winnings, or suggest that such persons can play these games
- The advertisements should not present ‘online gaming for real money winnings’ as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
- The advertisement should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others.
- Every such gaming advertisement would need to carry a disclaimer as per the specified rules.
Secretary General of the ASCI, Manisha Kapoor talked about how the ASCI plans to take an inclusive approach on gaming adverts. She said,
“We have noted concerns about such advertisements, both from consumers as well as the government. The key fact that is completely suppressed in most of these advertisements is the real possibility of losing money. Millions of users of these apps come from lower-income families, who can ill afford to lose their hard-earned money. To add to the damage, the frequent use of celebrities makes them even more risky – more attractive to consumers who end up trusting their heroes and role models blindly. These advertisements end up being misleading and are violative of the ASCI code”
The plan is that even though the government is still taking decisions about the legal issues surrounding the sector, these advertising guidelines will help make RMG more transparent and safer.
These ASCI guidelines have got the support and backing of the government, via the ministry of information and broadcasting, The department of consumer affairs as well as the ministry of electronics and information technology.