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Basketball Players Discuss the ‘Ugly’ Side of Sports Betting

Ontario’s new and regulated market for online gambling and sports wagering has certainly been a success, however, the iGaming boom has come with a downside. In a recent Yahoo Sports Canada’s Hustle Play podcast, two players of the Toronto Raptors spoke about the negative and ugly side of sports wagering which can be seen among more enthusiastic fans.

The private sector was the first of this kind for Canada, and it allows for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to license an unlimited number of operators, provided that they meet the province’s gaming standards. For its first year of operations, the market saw a total wagering volume of CA$35 billion and over 1.6 million active users.

Threats and Hateful Remarks Incidents

Ontario’s sector attracted plenty of bettors but has a downside for some professional athletes. Raptors’ forward Chris Boucher shared that he received hateful and racist messages from a bettor, because he only had five points, whilst the bettor had a bet that he would score 10. His teammate, Fred VanVleet also said he often received sickening messages on social media.

Former Olympian and sport and public policy expert Bruce Kidd was appalled when he heard Boucher’s interview. He said it was very upsetting that athletes are under this pressure and they are getting these attacks from not meeting the point spread or the parlay that a bettor has placed. The professor emeritus at the University of Toronto claimed that it demeans the value of the sport.

In response to this, the AGCO issued a statement in which it revealed it was aware of the incidents involving the Raptors players and said it was appalled by such acts. A spokesperson for the gambling regulator said it only has authority over betting operators to impose its gaming standards, and these incidents are police matters.

Mr. Kidd noted that gambling’s effects are bolstered by its accessibility and that most broadcasts in the province are full of gambling ads with sports starts promoting operators. He added that the current model does have advantages over the previous unregulated one, but sports betting commercials need to be reduced so children are not exposed to them.

Last month, AGCO issued a survey on the market conducted by Ipsos, which found that 85% of the respondents who gambled online in the province over the last three months did so on legal sites. It also discovered that Basketball was the most popular sport for bettors with 28% of the volume, followed by soccer at 15%, football at 14% hockey at 9% and baseball at 8%.

Ads are Slowing Down

Meanwhile, broadcast executives have recently shared that the uproar against the barrage of gambling ads and the number of free-to-play commercials has dried out in the province. In a recent panel, thinkTV revealed that the organization screened 347 gambling ads in 2022, which was around 1% of its total workload of around 33,000 ads

Source: “Hatred hurled at Raptors stars shows ugly influence sports betting can have on fandomCBC, April 11, 2023