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Indian government bans 138 betting apps with China ties

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India has ordered a shutdown of around 232 Chinese mobile applications, including 138 betting apps. The government, which is in the middle of a significant crackdown on money-lending apps, issued the order on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis.

The apps reportedly offer loan and betting services to the South Asian market and were banned to prevent the acquisition and misuse of citizens’ information. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology initiated the action to ban the apps on the Ministry of Home Affairs’ recommendation.

The government started analyzing around 288 Chinese apps six months ago and discovered that the majority of them fall under Section 69 of the IT Act because they contain material that threatens the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

The recent move was made after several complaints of harassment and extortion of individuals who had received minor amounts as loans through the apps. The operators reportedly intended to mislead customers and make them take on sizable debts without paying attention to the terms.

After an unsuspecting person takes on a loan, the interest increases by 3,000 percent every year. The app representatives eventually show up to harass these debtors when they are unable to pay the interest, not to mention the entire loan.

The individuals do this by sending lewd messages to the debtors and their contacts and threatening to post morphed pictures of them. A spate of suicides in places like Telangana and Andra Pradesh by people who lost money to betting apps or buckled under the weight of the loans brought the matter to light.

READ: Best Indian sports betting sites

There were also concerns that the apps could be used as tools of propaganda and espionage. According to reports, they were the product of Chinese nationals who brought in Indians and placed them as directors in operation. Central intelligence agencies and Indian states like Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh had requested that the Union Home Ministry be involved in the issue.

The government’s move on Sunday is the latest in its attempt to shut down shark loan apps and other unregulated services that pose a threat to its citizens.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of India announced strict rules for online lending firms. They were recommended to provide more control and transparency to their customers. Per the rules, the lenders could not increase a customer’s credit limit without receiving their consent. They were also required to inform them of the annual loan rate explicitly.

Concerning data collection, digital lending apps need customers’ explicit consent before acquiring data or the like. Requests like that must also be “need-based”.

In recent years, India has blocked more than 300 apps with ties to China because the programs were “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the state, and public order.” Tencent’s Xriver, NetEase’s Onmyoji, Garena’s Free Fire, and around 50 more apps linked to China were banned in New Delhi. Other apps restricted include TikTok, PUBG Mobile Shein, Xender, and Camscanner.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) published an advisory announcing that because gambling and betting were not legal in several parts of India, promotions for betting platforms and the like were deemed illegal per the provisions of the Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 as well as the IT Rules 2021.

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