More and more people are worried about the potential effect of online gambling advertisements on children, due to their immense volume. Most recently, Karl Subban who is the father of three popular hockey players, PK, Malcom and Jordan, has shared his concern about the barrage of betting ads across Canada and their impact on younger audiences.
The overflow of wagering ads in Canada can be explained by the opening of Ontario’s iGaming market for third-party operators, which became a reality in April 2022. Now, betting availability in the province is easier than ever, as there are plenty of websites to choose from. But to that to that, operators have increased their marketing efforts and such ads have become quite common.
Measures Must Be Taken
In a recent interview, Mr. Subban who is now a school principal reminded that the part of the brain that is responsible for decision-making is not fully developed until one is 25 years old. He has also joined the campaign for prohibiting gambling ads called Ban Ads for Gambling, which calls for the removal of all gaming ads from all hockey broadcasts.
He is worried about the exposure of his grandchildren to sports betting ads during this NHL season and believes those commercials are degrading the sports and ruining the experience for families. He also believes that anything would help and noted that there should be a limit on the volume of these ads as pro athletes, actors, and actresses in these endorsements can be quite influential.
In light of the recent backlash regarding the excess of commercials, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has proposed to ban the use of sports athletes and celebrities from such ads. This is due to the fact that highly popular individuals such as pro athletes often appeal to children. However, the change is still pending and is waiting for submissions from stakeholders.
But some people believe the damage is already done. An anonymous recovering gambling addict shared that he met many families with children as young as eight years old suffering from problem gambling. He told about a case of a kid taking his mother’s credit card without her knowing and managing to wager on games and playing everything they could online.
Furthermore, he thinks that the regulated iGaming market in Canada has caused more trouble as more people are looking into illegal bookies to wager through. The anonymous gambler explained that when people run out of credit, they often look for loans from the streets. In these cases, bookies agree to extend credit to people who cannot repay leading to more severe consequences.
Mental Health Associations Calls for a Ban
The Canadian Mental Health Association has also urged for the limit or banning of gambling ads. The organization recently made recommendations to the AGCO saying all gambling ads should be banned as a way of protecting teens and young adults. It also remarked noted that ads are affecting minors and young adults whose brains are not fully developed until they reach 25 and that they were more susceptible to risks.
Source: Ghobrial, Adrian “Kids as young as 8 report gambling addictions, advocates say, calling out sports betting ads” CTV News Canada, May 25, 2023