Since the opening of Ontario’s market for online gambling and sports betting, the province and Canada have become subject to heavy gambling marketing from operators. Along with many experts and parents, the Chief of The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Kelly LaRocca is also worried about the potential impact on children from the heavy iGaming marketing.
Last April, Ontario became the first Canadian province to open a regulated sector for online casino games and sports wagering. The move was a way of dealing with grey market operations while also protecting consumers. But its opening saw the coming of an excess of betting ads during sports games and they often feature some very popular sports individuals.
Sending an Open Letter
Ms. LaRocca labelled these betting ads as intrusive and irresponsible and the First Nation has taken a step towards changing it. The tribe has sent an open letter to Wayne Gretzky, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, who have promoted betting products. She is hopeful that the hockey stars would step down from advertising iGaming as many young children idolize them.
But the President of the Canadian Gaming Association was quick to respond to Ms. LaRocca’s comments. He reminded that online gaming operators do not target minors with their ads and that they have robust ‘know your customer’ practices which prevent minors from creating accounts and from accessing websites which are regulated by the province.
In relation to that, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which oversees the online gambling market, proposed banning sports athletes from featuring in such ads. The suggestion is yet to be enacted but Mr. Burns clarified that before a celebrity can appear in an iGaming ad, brands must first get the nod from thinkTV, which is a marketing and research association.
Ms. LaRocca further commented that there was a big difference between in-person gambling and doing it online. She explained that an individual must make an effort to go to a brick-and-mortar casino whereas, via a phone, a person is just a few taps away. She also shared that the Nation is still waiting for a response to its open letter from the three hockey stars.
Match Manipulation Will Happen, Warn Experts
On top of dealing with the impact of the influx of gaming ads, Ontario will soon have another problem on its hands, experts warned recently. Specialists said the immense popularity of sports betting in the province could lead to a match-fixing problem. This is due to the fact that the province did not have the exact laws to oppose it.
Professor Richard McLaren the province must prepare for a potential match-fixing issue while noting that the problem is still in its early stages. According to the Sportradar Group AG, the number of suspicious matches worldwide was 1,212 in 2022. On top of that, Canada has had its fair share of match-fixing problems in the past.
Source: Ghobrial, Adrian “First Nation chief writes to Gretzky, other stars over appearances in gambling ads” CTV News, June 12, 2023