Real money gaming has emerged as the most non-compliant sector for the year 2022-23, according to the Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) annual complaints report.
More than 50% of the advertisements that needed modifications did not comply with consumer complaints council recommendations, the report added.
The ASCI had released guidelines for real money gaming advertisements in December 2021 with an objective to make people aware about the financial and addiction risks associated with such games. But, 92% of ads did not add the necessary disclaimer that educated users about the risks, the report further said.
Gaming pipped the education sector to be the largest violator of ad norms. Other top violative sectors were healthcare, personal care, and cryptocurrency. The report further highlighted that it recorded an 803% surge in ads processed against celebrities, whereas 1 in every four ads processed by ASCI had an influencer violation.
Some of the non-compliant celebrities named in the ASCI report are MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Bhuvan Bam, and Sara Ali Khan. The influencers list includes names such as Mukul Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, and Tapsee Pannu.
In November 2022, the ASCI had said that between April 2022 and September 2022 it processed 781 complaints against social media influencers. It’s worth noting that influencers accounted for 28% of ad complaints. A slew of celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sunny Leone, Sonu Sood, Tiger Shroff, and Saurav Ganguly were among the influencers found non-compliant for that period.
Overall in FY2022-23, the ASCI took up 7928 ads for scrutiny, which is 2x over the last two years. Of this, 88% of ads were taken up by suo-moto.
That said, gaming becoming the top violative sector isn’t surprising as there’s an intense competition between the fantasy, e-sports and real-money gaming firms.
The top 15 revenue-generating companies in this segment — some of which include Dream11, Gameskraft, Games24x7, A23 and MPL — have cumulatively generated Rs 9,093 crore in topline during FY22. But, more interestingly, these companies spent over half of that amount on advertisement and promotions: over Rs 5,000 crore.
As per the data analyzed by Fintrackr, the advertisement and promotional spends for these startups grew 27% year-on-year to Rs 5,191.3 crore in FY22 from Rs 4,197.9 crore in FY21 while the revenue also scaled at the same pace and grew 27% to Rs 9,093 crore during FY22 from Rs 7,157.81 crore in the previous year.
In FY22, Dream11 spent the highest amount of money on advertisements followed by Gameskraft, Games24x7, and A23.
Ignoring requests to carry disclaimers and make other changes might just come to bite the whole sector as we have mentioned earlier. A sector that has taken pains to set up self regulatory bodies is simply offering ammunition on a platter to its critics. Real money gaming, as we have stressed, faces the unenviable status of attracting more attention the more successful it is, and the sooner the industry finds a way to stay on the right side of regulations, legal and voluntary, the better it will be.