Anti-Gambling Voices Think Ontario’s New Ban on Athlete Ads Isn’t Enough

  • The new rules won’t come into effect until February 28, 2024
  • Anti-gambling advocates want even stricter measures in place
  • AGCO wants to prevent athletes in ads from influencing minors
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Anti-gambling advocates are not satisfied with Ontario’s new ban on athletes appearing in online gambling ads.

Reigning in the sector

Online betting operators in Ontario will soon no longer be able to use professional athletes to promote their services. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced on Tuesday that a ban on such ads will come into effect on February 28, 2024, following the updating of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming:

The rule will prohibit retired and current athletes from appearing in ads unless they are solely promoting responsible gambling. The restrictions also include any other type of celebrities that might appeal to minors, including cartoon figures, entertainers, social media influencers, and other role models.

Pushing for more

While anti-gambling advocates have welcomed the new measure, they have also called for even stricter regulations. They believe that the restrictions don’t do enough to properly protect vulnerable people from the damaging impact of gambling.

thinks the lack of a single set of national standards could cause confusion

Canadian Senator Marty Deacon, for instance, wants the ban to extend across the entire country and believes television gambling ads should only appear after a certain time. She thinks the lack of a single set of national standards could cause confusion if other provinces start to allow private operators.

The Ontario New Democratic Party welcomed the ban and wants lawmakers to continue listening to health professionals who talk about the dangers of online gambling ads.

A time for change

The AGCO originally began seriously considering tightening its parameters back in April when it launched consultations. Some of the stakeholders that contributed included the general public, gaming operators, and mental health groups.

The AGCO revealed on Tuesday that the catalyst for change came following major criticism from “advocates, experts, and parents about the notable rise of online gambling advertisements, especially during live sports.” According to an example used in the AGCO’s report, almost eight and a half minutes of online sports betting ads were shown during a 2023 NHL playoff game involving the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Multiple famous Canadian athletes have deals with sportsbooks. Legendary Canadian hockey star Wayne Gretzky has been on board as a BetMGM ambassador for a few years, while current NHL player Connor McDavid has also made appearances in gambling ads.

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