With the advancements in the Canadian gambling industry from last year, it has become quite common to see many gambling ads on TV and online featuring film or sports stars. However, according to Alberta’s Problem Gambling Resources Network, this has come with a toll. The organization says that more and more Albertans have contacted it to seek help.
Last year, the federal Canadian government decriminalized single-event wagering, which paved the way for the opening of Ontario’s legal iGaming market. This has led to an overflow of betting ads in the country, featuring popular names such as Aaron Paul who played Jesse Pinkman in the popular series Breaking Bad. However, this could be harmful to already tricky to deal with gambling addictions.
More People Have Asked for Help
Executive director of Alberta’s Problem Gambling Resources Network, Ray Reshke, reveals that more and more Albertans have contacted the organization for help with online betting and sports wagering. The expert notes that the industry has changed over the last few decades and that the recent boom in sports betting advertising has certainly added more fuel to problem gambling.
Despite the opening of Ontario’s regulated sector, there are also grey markets across the country which can easily be accessed. Mr. Reshke who battled VLT addiction more than two decades ago, comments that there are plenty of unregulated online gambling options in Alberta which are quite easy to play if one has a mobile device or a tablet.
The province’s gambling regulator – the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission is also attempting to protect bettors from the offshore sector by promoting its PlayAlberta.ca. The Crown corporation often runs initiatives such as its “A Better Way To Play” campaign from July 2022 to remind locals that PlayAlberta is the only regulated platform in the province.
Additionally, a spokesperson for Gamblers’ Anonymous stressed that those who already battle gambling addictions are finding it extremely difficult not to be swayed by the online wagering options. The Calgarian who did not share his name said that the abundance of sports betting ads is a problem as most new members who attend the meetings tend to be online gamblers.
However, Prof. Robert Williams, a gaming expert at the University of Lethbridge, says the effect of heavy marketing should be put into perspective. In his opinion, it does not have an impact on the majority who are recreational players, as it might only shift their preference. He also believes that ads will start to dry out, once operations reach their target shares in the market.
Children are at Risk Too
Still, he is worried that those who struggle with addiction could suffer from overexposure. The abundance of ads can affect children too. He noted that the gaming industry’s way of advertising on TV is not shared by purveyors of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. He adds that gambling ads should be banned, but explains that governments are tempted to capture a share of the wagering sector.
Source: Kaufmann, Bill “‘Should be offside’: Sports betting blitz spikes concerns over problem gambling” Calgary Herald, December 26, 2022