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Ontario Bans Athlete-Featured Online Gambling Ads to Protect Minors

Ontario bars athlete involvement in online gambling ads to protect minors from potential enticement.

In a bid to safeguard children and youth from the allure of online gambling, Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) has instituted a ban on active and retired athletes appearing in commercials promoting online gambling. The prohibition, which goes into effect on February 28, is in response to concerns that such ads featuring athletes and celebrities could entice underage individuals to engage in gambling activities.

This is a move that will cost athletes potentially millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue, but the commission believes it will help keep kids away from a trend and activity that has become highly addictive and part of the sports scene for adults.

The decision comes after the AGCO’s observation of marketing strategies that employ athletes and celebrities, including NHL stars Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Wayne Gretzky, which could potentially appeal to minors. The Commission’s research has indicated that young audiences are particularly vulnerable to these advertising tactics.

The updated regulations state that registered Ontario igaming operators will be barred from featuring athletes, whether they are currently active or retired, in their promotional materials. However, there is an exception for using athletes for the sole purpose of advocating responsible gambling practices. This move is part of AGCO’s commitment to ensuring the integrity and safety of Ontario’s growing igaming market, which completed its first year of regulated operation.

The AGCO’s decision was informed by a series of consultations held in April 2023. A wide array of stakeholders, including mental health and public health organizations, responsible gambling experts, gaming operators, broadcast and marketing groups, and the general public, participated in the discussions. The consensus was that banning ads that leverage athletes’ appeal could effectively reduce the risk of underage gambling.

In addition to the ban on athlete-featured ads, the AGCO guidelines stipulate that marketing materials should not include elements like cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities, or entertainers that might attract minors. These comprehensive measures reflect the Commission’s dedication to fostering a safe and responsible online gambling environment for all Ontarians, particularly the vulnerable youth population.

If there’s good news coming out of this, it’s that we’ll likely see less ads during sporting events, something fans have complained about since every second commercial seemed to be an online betting commercial.

Next: 2 “Major” Trades May Eventually See Matthews Only Core Maple Leaf Left

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chris

    August 29, 2023 at 10:35 am

    Let this lead to a ban on using NHL players in gambling ads in ALL markets. I’d expect better from them, especially Gretzky.

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