Wayne Gretzky - BetMGM

  • Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission has proposed banning the use of athletes, cartoons, influencers, etc. from being spokesmen for betting advertisements.
  • While it is not a blanket ban, the AGCO specifies that it would include anyone who could be of “primary appeal” to minors in the attempt to protect them from developing into problem gamblers.
  • This comes a bit over a year since Ontario launched their iGaming market, which has rapidly grown in both operators and amount wagered.

ONTARIO – Ontario is stepping up to protect its vulnerable population from the predations of gambling operators and their associated advertisements. The decision comes following a booming year of growth for the province’s iGaming market that saw over $35 billion wagered.

The development also comes as a follow up to an investigation by CBC news that charted evolutions and trends in the betting market. With the consistent popularity that legal sports betting is getting, it comes as little surprise that regulatory boards are presenting countermeasures to mitigate damages.

What the AGCO’s Proposal Entails

The primary purpose of the AGCO’s proposal comes off the heels of various surveys and studies into the iGaming market, which launched in April of 2022. The market was the first to allow for multiple operators in the province to legally accept bets, with over 40 regulated entities now actively operating.

In many ways, the creation of the Canada sports betting market was a massive success. Doug Downey, the Attorney General of Ontario backed this up stating:

“Since its launch in April 2022, Ontario’s iGaming market has displaced the existing unregulated market and made Ontario an internationally recognized leader in this industry”.

However, the massive rise has also brought with it a flood of advertisements that have inundated Ontario residents and other Canadians with images of athletes, celebrities, and the like. Popular names like Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky headlined advertisements from BetMGM, which raised concerns over young audience members that idolize the two hockey legends.

In response to this, the AGCO’s amendment proposes to:

“Prohibit the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who are reasonably expected to appeal to minors”.

Comments on the proposal are reported to be accepted until May 8 but the change is likely to continue regardless.

The change would also require that operators and advertisers discontinue their usage of these athletes, celebrities, influencers, etc. in the three months following the new standard being created and posted. Further updates and changes would follow as the legal betting market continues to evolve and adapt.

Given that many studies since the growing popularity of gambling report younger audiences are more likely to develop gambling problems or addiction, the move is a great one by the AGCO for the health and safety of Ontario’s most vulnerable demographic.

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