The Indian government has expressed concerns about OTT platforms and social media sites displaying advertisements for offshore gambling and betting apps, which have faced criticism for security issues and other problems.
A recent meeting involving multiple agencies and ministries discussed the matter in detail this month. Despite the government's directive, some OTT platforms continue to air these ads, as pointed out by a senior official who attended the meeting and spoke to News18. Last year, the government instructed satellite TV and streaming services like Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video to not to air advertisements or promotional content related to gambling and betting. However, technical analysis revealed that these apps found ways to advertise through certain less-regulated OTT platforms, some of which cater only to adult content.
Social media sites and apps have become the primary advertising tool for these betting and gambling apps, particularly those operating from suspicious or unknown locations. Fake companies use accounts with large followings to promote these dubious apps. Even various influencers, especially those with moderate, micro, and nano-tier followings, have been noticed promoting such offshore betting and gambling apps in their videos.
The government is expected to issue an advisory to social media influencers, urging them to avoid promoting these harmful apps that disrupt the country's financial and security structure. They might also involve well-known social media figures to raise awareness about these cheating apps.
The government has received numerous complaints about fraud committed by these companies in the past few months. The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) has received over 8,000 complaints related to online gambling and betting since 2018.
These apps accept payments through various methods, including UPI, bank transfers, credit/debit cards, and even cryptocurrencies. As gambling and betting are mostly illegal in India, these payments are received by Indian agents or companies operating for this purpose, making it difficult to trace the actual beneficiaries.
These apps also demand sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers, Aadhaar numbers, PAN cards, etc., under the pretext of player verification, posing a risk to Indian citizens' privacy.
It is suspected that the generated revenue is being siphoned off from India through illicit means like hawala, cryptocurrencies, or other black market transactions, posing a threat to India's financial security. Additionally, the money may be used to fund illegal and criminal activities, further endangering public order and national security.