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Gambling Specialists Concerned about Sports Betting Boom

Sports betting gains more and more traction across Canada, which is why gambling experts such as Shauna Altrogge have shared their concerns about its exposure. The director of the Gambling Awareness Program with the Canadian Mental Health Associations’ Saskatchewan division, says that the normalization of sports betting ads can have a negative impact on the youth.

As a director of the organization, Ms. Altrogge’s responsibility is to educate the public on how to gamble in a safer and more responsible manner. Previously, the non-profit described Saskatchewan as a province where gambling is extremely common. According to it, approximately 75% of local adults gamble and spend on average CA$855 on wagering every year.

A Different Type of Gambling

The responsible gambling advocate shared that the organization is concerned about the effect of sports betting on young ones. In her words, sports gambling is almost considered a different type of wagering activity than lottery, casino, and slot machines. She elaborates that people seem to forget that despite their sports knowledge, risk and chance are still heavily involved.

Some of her other concerns are in relation to the heavy marketing of sports betting apps and platforms. According to her, many children will be watching any kind of sports game and they could be swayed by the ads. She also added that this could have a negative impact on the youth and that this is an issue that should not be neglected.

Elaine McDougall, the director of marketing and communications at the Responsible Gambling Council also believes that children are too exposed to sports betting marketing. According to her, a normalization of sports betting is currently happening. Last year she shared that the council developed a prevention program for youth and schools in Ontario for that reason.

The council and ThinkTV, which is a marketing and research association tasked with the advancement of commercial TV, are currently working on a PSA campaign. The broadcast initiative will be devoted to harm prevention and gambling. Ms. McDougall said that the program should launch in the fall, and it will first debut in Ontario and then in other regions.

Target Audience

Previously, Dr. David Hodgins, Director of the University of Calgary’s Addictive Behaviors Lab, also expressed concerns regarding the target audience of numerous sports betting ads. He indicated that the normalizing of sports wagering could be a potential threat to the young Canadian minds. Since the popularity of the offering makes them believe that it is normal to wager on sports.

Michael Naraine, from the Department of Sport Management of the Brock University, commented that Ontario’s sports betting ads could be problematic for other provinces. The province is the only one with an open iGaming market, and if for example, B.C. gamblers see them they can resort to wagering on offshore websites in search of variety.

Source: Provost, Kelly “Responsible gambling advocates keeping eye on increasing ‘normalization’ of sports betting”, CBC News, June 2, 2022