Advisory from CCPA on Prohibition of Surrogate Advertising and Unlawful Activities

May 3, 2024
Advisory from CCPA

By Rupin Chopra and Shantam Sharma


For better or worse, India today has become a hotbed of outward cash flow in the global sports betting industry. As per media reports, the global sports betting market received an estimated Rs. 8,20,000 crore ($100 billion) per annum deposits from India, with a steady growth of 20% per annum.[1] This dire situation has been further exaggerated by an influx of companies/influencers promoting online betting and gambling apps through advertisements. To remedy this and increase public awareness, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) issued a comprehensive advisory dated March 6, 2024[2] emphasizing the prohibition of advertising, promotion, and endorsement of unlawful activities.

CCPA Advisory:

As per The Public Gambling Act, 1867, betting and gambling is unlawful in the country save for game of skill.[3] Despite the law, online betting platforms and gambling applications advertise betting and gambling without any inhibitions under the guise of gaming.

To tackle this challenge and concern around the increase in popularity of such games, the CCPA pinned down the following points in its advisory:

  1. Influencers/celebrities promoting betting and gambling apps: CCPA has observed that betting application and platform are hiring celebrities and influencers to promote and endorse their betting activities. CCPA claims that when such endorsement are being done by celebrities, it gives an impression that indulging in such activity is acceptable.
  2. Guidelines to apply across media: It reiterates that the advisory will apply to all advertisements, irrespective of the medium used.
  3. Individual Responsibility: The CCPA insisted that celebrities and influencers should resist and refrain themselves from endorsing and promoting illegal betting and gambling activities, engaging in such advertisement and promotion of online gambling and betting renders the celebrities equally liable[4] for participating in an illegal activity given its unlawful status in majority of the states.

This advisory effectively arise from the CCPA’s guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022 released on June 9, 2022 which prohibits advertisements of services and products that are barred from being produced or sold.

The relevant excerpt if the law is provided below:

“Clause 6 of Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022 provides as under:

  1. Prohibition of surrogate advertising. — (1) No surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisement shall be made for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods or services, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law.

(2) An advertisement shall be considered to be a surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisement, if– (a) such advertisement indicates or suggests directly or indirectly to consumers that it is an advertisement for the goods, product or service whose advertising is prohibited or restricted by law;

(b) Such advertisement uses any brand name, logo, colour, layout and presentation associated with such goods, product or services whose advertisement is prohibited or restricted:

Provided that mere use of a brand name or company name which may also be applied to goods, product or service whose advertising is prohibited or restricted shall not be considered to be surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisement, if such advertisement is not otherwise objectionable as per the provisions set out in these guidelines.[5]

In simple words, surrogate advertisement is essentially a substitute advertisement for the goods which cannot be directly advertised due to the prohibition of law. The law cited above bars such advertisements whether made directly or indirectly.

For instance: Major alcohol brands are an excellent example of surrogate advertisements. The video ad shows water, soda, and music, and the brand tries to sell its product under the name of club soda.

Further, Hon’ble Delhi High Court in TV Today Network Limited v Union of India[6], when considering measures imposed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on a television channel for airing a supposed surrogate advertisement opined that the advertisement – for a brand of club soda – gave rise to questions of surrogate advertising having occurred as the club soda bottles were marketed under the same brand as, and using similar packing to, ‘All Seasons’ whiskey products.

Government Efforts to Curb Surrogate Advertisements:

Not only the CCPA, but the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has taken pro-active steps to check the proliferation of such betting and gambling apps. In December, 2023 blocked a total of 581 applications out of which there are 174 betting and gambling applications.[7]

Also, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on August 25, 2023 issued an advisory on Advertisements including Surrogate Advertisements of Online Betting Platforms[8], forewarning the social media platforms, media and related parties against enabling and carrying advertisements run by online real-money gaming (RMG) firms. It warned the parties about the “appropriate actions” under various statues for prevention of both direct and surrogate advertising of games that may somehow qualify as gambling or betting.

The MIB in its advisory further pointed out advertising intermediaries and social media platforms have been allowing direct and indirect advertisements of gambling and betting during major events such as cricket tournaments with the tendency to boost promotion and projection of such games and platforms during a major event.[9]


The continual barrage of advertisements and endorsements of questionable both gambling and betting apps where media has fanned a misconception amongst consumers about unrealistic and unlawful financial gain through betting and gambling apps. The CCPA and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have released a number of advisories to caution the consumers and warn the guilty parties to restrain from such illegal activities. Despite these regulations, surrogate advertising is still growing in various forms, highlighting the challenges in enforcing such regulations effectively.

Aishwarya Rajput, Assesment Intern at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this article.

[1] Available at

[2] Available at

[3] Section 12- Available at

[4] “Rule 3(b) endorser- includes an individual or a group or an institution making endorsement of any goods, product or service in an advertisement whose opinion, belief, finding or experience being the message which such advertisement appears to reflect; Available at- 

[5] Available at

[6] W.P. (C) 1971/2021, CM Appls. 5764/2021 and 5765/2021 before the Delhi High Court

[7] Available at

[8] Available at

[9] Available at

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