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B.C. Experts also Call for a Ban of Celebrity Use in Gaming Ads

Luke Clark, director University of B.C.’s gambling research is worried about the increasing popularity and availability of sports wagering and the potential impact of advertising on children. His statement comes at a time when the British Columbia Lottery Corporation is looking to concentrate marketing on a younger demographic that usually represents light and casual bettors.

Commercials for sports betting have been on the rise across Canada due to the launch of Ontario’s private iGaming market, which brought plenty of operators to the scene, looking to attract more clients. But last month, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health urged Ontario to ban gambling ads during sports games and limit the use of celebrities or influencers in them.

More Data Should be Supplied on the Topic

Mr. Clark recently noted sports wagering was a rapidly developing vertical in the last several years. That is why he believes that the country and the province need more data on the uptake of sports betting products and their impact on the rates of gambling problems. It should be mentioned that the research centre is funded by the local government and the BCLC.

While the Crown is looking to attract a younger demographic of players, Mr. Clark said that given the correlation between gambling ads and gambling behaviour, there was a need for very close review of the role of gaming ads in B.C. and the country. He noted sports betting could be addictive in a similar way other forms of gambling can be addictive.

Canadian Mental Health Association has also advised a more drastic approach when it comes to sports wagering ads, due to their potential effect on children and youth. For its argument, the organization cited a 2021 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health study which discovered that in the province approximately 15% of students have participated in real-money iGaming. This was 4% higher than in 2020.

In the meantime, the CEO of the Crown corporation, Pat Davis also expressed his disappointment that the privatization of Ontario’s market has led to such an influx of ads. But he remarked that these kinds of ads do not align with BCLC’s standards. The Crown also advertises its betting brand PlayNow but those ads do not target children and do not feature celebrities, said the CEO.

Mr. Davis also admitted that the Crown is familiar with the fatigue created by the overflow of ads from Ontario and it was something that it has been adjusting its marketing on. He also explained that when BCLC targets a younger demographic it is about actually a demographic in their 30s as currently, the Crown has an average one of people in their mid-50s.

Banning Athletes from Ads Could be a Start

In response to the backlash on the influx of gambling commercials the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has come up with a proposal. In April, the regulator proposed banning sports starts from featuring in gambling endorsements due to their appeal on the young ones. This will also apply to cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers.

Source: DeRosa, Katie “Calls grow across Canada to ban gambling ads during sports broadcastsVancouver Sun, June 6, 2023