Ontario Wants to Ban Pro Athletes in Gambling Ads

Recently, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates online gambling in the province, proposed banning sports stars in the advertisements for iGaming. In its proposal, the regulator has also suggested prohibiting the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who tend to appeal to younger audiences.

In April 2022, Ontario became the first Canadian province to open up its online gambling market for private operators. For its first 12 months of operations, the sector drew immense interest as it brought more than CA$35 billion in handle. And with the huge interest in the market, the province was overflown by gambling ads, which has been a cause of concern for parents and experts.

Addressing Concerns

On Thursday, the AGCO proposed to prohibit the use of former and current pro athletes as well as other popular entertainers in iGaming ads across the province. The province already forbids the same kind of advertising using someone that would primarily appeal to minors. With the proposed changes, the regulator would further minimize the potential harm to children and young people.

In its press, the AGCO said it monitors and identifies possible risks, and if necessary, it updates the Registrar’s Standards to mitigate them. The regulator has now identified advertising and marketing approaches that strongly appeal to individuals who are under the legal gaming age via celebrities or athletes. It said concerns about the potential impact on the underage demographic remain high.

In addition to that, the Ontario iGaming watchdog said that it will hear comments on its proposals until May 8, 2023. If and when the changes are made official, the regulator explained that it would take three months after the final standard is published on its official website. This way it would give operators and providers time to alter their marketing strategies accordingly.

For its first full year of operations, Ontario reported that it has recorded over CA$35 billion in handled online wagers. This volume generated around CA$1.4 billion in revenue thus taking the province into the top five iGaming jurisdictions in North America. Meanwhile, its active players had approximately CA$70 spent every month on online gambling.

Lastly, the regulator elaborated that a key objective since launch is to create a safe, competitive, and well-regulated online gaming space for local bettors. That is why it is suggesting banning the use of athletes and celebrities in online gambling ads and related marketing as they can appeal to children and youth in the province.

Broadcasters Say Complaints Decreased

In the meantime, at a panel of the Canadian Gaming Association in Toronto, it was reported that there has been a decrease in the public uproar about iGaming ads and .net commercials in the province. thinkTV revealed that it screened 347 gambling ads in 2022, which was around 1% of thinkTV’s total workload of around 33,000 ads

Source: Zochodne, Geoff β€œOntario Proposing to Ban Sports Betting Sites from Using Athletes in Ads” Covers, April 13, 2023

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Yolina has followed closely the latest development on the Canadian gaming scene over the past years, monitoring the land-based, lottery, and online offerings up for grabs. The dynamic nature of the local lottery and casino fields, as well as the opportunities lying ahead of Canada fire her enthusiasm for what is to come. A sports betting enthusiast, in her spare time Yolina could be found in her natural habitat – turning the pages of biographies and catching up on the latest stand-up comedy podcasts.