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Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is working on guidelines for online real money gaming companies, a person aware of the matter said, as interest in them soars at a time of restriction in outdoor games.

The ad regulator is currently in consultations with the ministry of information and broadcasting, the All India Gaming Federation and civil society members.

The new guidelines will aim to make advertising of real-money games more responsible, and ensure that users are aware of the risks associated with such games.

Real money gaming platforms gained traction during the pandemic-induced lockdowns when users took to online gaming in a big way. From rummy and poker to fantasy gaming, there are multiple categories involving real money, with firms such as Dream11, Mobile Premier League (MPL), RummyPassion and Ace2Three gaining popularity by advertising and sponsoring important events.

Advertisers may be prohibited from depicting anyone younger than 18 years winning real money in an online game, the person cited above said. They may also carry a disclaimer across print, television and digital platforms highlighting the financial risks. The firms will also be asked to restrain portraying these games as an alternative source of income.

ASCI declined to comment on the development.

“Regulations are always welcome. In a sunrise sector, they bring stability and clarity. MPL will comply fully and proactively with any regulation," said Dibyojyoti Mainak, vice president for policy and legal, MPL, an e-sports platform where users can compete in multiple skill-based mobile gaming tournaments.

As per a recent KPMG study, online gaming grew 45% in FY20 with the user base surpassing 365 million by March on real-money games. As India is a mobile-first country, more than 90% of online gamers play games on their phones. The online gaming market, worth more than $500 million now, could be worth $1.1 billion by 2021. In 2019, around 5.6 billion mobile gaming apps were downloaded in India – the highest in the world and representing nearly 13% of gaming apps globally.

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