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Impact Of Celebrity Endorsement Of Gambling On Indian Youth Estimates suggest that nearly 80 per cent of Indians gamble at least once a year and that the online gambling industry is expected to be worth $250 billion by 2024

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A media report from 2015 indicates that the Enforcement Directorate conducted investigation to find that there were nearly INR 1.9 lakh crore gambled on a UK gambling site through 10 million users from India. In recent times, we have witnessed large number of gambling sites that have emerged in India. Estimates suggest that nearly 80 per cent of Indians gamble at least once a year and that the online gambling industry is expected to be worth $250 billion by 2024. The popularity of cricket and football in India has prompted developers to come up with well-regulated mobile applications related to online gaming and betting. These apps allow sports fans the opportunity to enjoy gaming action and place their bets on a wide variety of sports events across the world. According to FICCI-EY data, fantasy sports alone could be worth $2.5 billion in 2022 and is likely to touch the $3.7 billion mark by 2024, with companies such as Dream 11 registering revenue of INR 2,070 crore in FY 2020.

In a research study conducted by IIM-Rohtak under the guidance of Prof Dheeraj Sharma, Director IIM Rohak along with Dr Madhurima Mishra to examine the impact of celebrity endorsement on propensity to gamble, it was found that intent to gamble significantly increases on account of celebrity endorsements. Furthermore, in an experimental setting, four type of situations were examine. The study found that highest level of intent to gamble exists in situation where a celebrity endorse gambling app while the statutory warning is stated by a non-celebrity. However, the propensity to gamble gets reduced when the endorsement as well as statutory warning is given by the celebrity. Therefore, it may be inferred that individual gambling on these apps do not pay much cognizance to the statutory warning as their attention is largely consumed by the celebrity's message. Consequently, for responsible actions of those who are watching and getting influenced by the advertisement of gambling sites, the regulator must ensure that the endorsement and statutory should both be provided by the celebrity. In the absence of this, it is likely that individuals will be enticed to go on gambling apps without realizing the financial and habit forming risks associated with such actions. The regulator must carefully examine this matter. Results indicated that a significant proportion of the Indian youth (roughly 78 per cent of the respondents in a survey of 1,004 individuals aged 17-28 years). Furthermore, likelihood of developing addiction to gambling apps is very high. Basis the means scores, it can be inferred that without proper statutory warnings likelihood of addiction could be found in at least two-thirds of the users of gambling apps.

At the international level, several celebrities are known to charge as much as $1 million for a single advertisement post on Instagram. Likewise, in the Indian context, estimates suggest that the amount spent on celebrity endorsements are likely to be approximately INR 10,000 crore in 2021, with several celebrities charging around INR 10 crore per brand. However, it is rare to witness any major Western celebrity endorsing alcohol, tobacco, or gambling. Even in the case of Pierce Brosnon (former James Bond actor) advertisement of Pan Masala related product, he ending up clarifying that he was misled to advertise. Cristiano Ronaldo openly removed the bottle of Coca-Cola during press conference and stated that he prefers water. However, Indian celebrities continue to endorse and advertise for products and services that cannot be classified as healthy or judicious choices. Some of the biggest Indian celebrities engage in surrogate advertisement of tobacco, pan masala, alcohol brands, etc. Given that Indian celebrities refuse to act responsibly in endorsing, advertising, and marketing these products and services, it only be suggested to the regulator that they ensure that these same celebrities must also give the statutory warning associated with these products and services. In the absence of which, the consumer will be enticed to consume as result of celebrity endorsement effect but will not be sufficiently cautioned as the statutory message remains very dull, dreary, and understated. In other words, consumers are being deluded as full picture remains missing.

Prof. Dheeraj Sharma & Dr Madhurima Mishra

Director, IIM Rohtak and Faculty, IIM Rohtak

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