Ontario’s mobile market for gambling is now facing more opposition for its marketing as a motion has been filed to regulate it. Last week, John Fraser, interim leader for the Ontario Liberal Party, shared that he tabled a motion in the provincial assembly last week urging the local government to implement a new approach to review the risks of heavy advertising across the province.
A year after the introduction of the regulated iGaming market, some Ontario parents and experts have expressed their concerns about the barrage of betting ads during sports games. That is why the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario proposed banning pro athletes from featuring in ads, as these kinds of personalities appeal to younger audiences.
Broader Approach Needed
Last week, Mr. Fraser said he introduced a motion at the provincial assembly asking the local government to adopt a broader approach to address the risks of the heavy iGaming marketing. He explained for many these ads were intrusive and quite annoying, while for others they came at a much higher cost and that it is something that needs to be addressed.
He advised the local government and the iGaming watchdog, AGCO, to go beyond just prohibiting celebrities from participating in advertising. In the motion, the party urges the province and other relevant regulatory bodies to establish a strategic plan to regulate the timing, frequency, location and use of celebrities in gaming ads in the province in relation to the increase of problem gambling among minors.
The Ontario Liberals cited a report from 2021 issued by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health which discovered that students in grades 7 to 12 have started gambling more online. It further found that even before the country legalized single-event sports betting in August 2021, approximately 15% of these students gambled money online over the past year, or 4% more than in 2019.
Lastly, Mr. Fraser said in his remarks that England took a similar approach and put in place a “whistle-to-whistle” prohibition on iGaming ads during broadcasts. He again claimed that such ads can be annoying for some, while for others it meant more issues, as many struggling with gambling habits is just more fuel to the fire.
Mental Health Organization Also Lobbies for Change
Last month, the Canadian Mental Health Association also weighed in on the widely discussed topic of the advertisements for online gambling in Ontario and Canada. The organization made several recommendations to AGCO by proposing to ban all iGaming ads as a way of protecting teens and young adults and tackling problem gambling.
But the mental health authority noted that ads are still affecting minors and young adults whose brains are not fully developed until they reach 25 and that they were more prone to taking risks. It reminded that gambling-related issues such as money loss, mental health difficulties, substance use, and suicide ideation can long-term impact a gambler and their family.
Source: Zochodne, Geoff “Online Sports Betting Advertising in Ontario Now Faces Political Pushback” Covers, June 2, 2023