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Ontario Operators Seek Clarity on iGaming Ads Changes

Not long ago, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario made some significant changes to its iGaming advertising and marketing standards. The online gambling watchdog banned the use of active and retired athletes in ads. However, operators online in the province’s sector have recently called for clarification of the new marketing standards.

In April 2022, Ontario became the first Canadian territory to privatize its online gambling market, which saw the licensing and launch of numerous third-party operators in the sector. The market is overseen by AGCO which has already fined several registered operators and suppliers for breaching the province’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

Stakeholders Need Clarifications

Kindred Group’s Amanda Brewer has recently stated that stakeholders are in a bit of confusion as to what defines an athlete or a celebrity. She added that no operator had any appetite for the visit in the early days of the market launch when the inducement language was far from clear and operators got served fined for breaching inducement rules.

The iGaming watchdog introduced its updated standards on advertising at the end of August 2023, hence banning sports stars from featuring in gambling endorsements. However, those rules will go into effect on February 28, 2024. This is another transitional period for the regulator who previously gave private brands a deadline to apply for a license in the province.

Ms. Brewer said that from an integrity perspective, the changes to ads make sense, but she believes that it does not address of the volume of ads. She commented that if the problem is how many ads are aired, and that the problem last year was mainly with the NHL, then, the topic needs to be taken up with the NHL and the broadcasters.

Paul Burns, the president of the Canadian Gaming Association is also wondering what is the difference between a celebrity and a retired athlete, and what are the metrics to determine what appeals to minors. The CGA has contacted the AGCO and has requested to be part of the process for developing the details of the new advertising regulations.

”Too Little Too Late”

However, changes to the iGaming advertising have come too late according to Noah Vineberg, who completed Ontario’s sole residential treatment program for problem gambling. He believes the update in gaming ads would have made an impact if the province had listened to all the advice of other countries and everything going into it had not been allowed.

Diana Gabriele, a certified counsellor at the CPGDD at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, remarked gaming ads are quite problematic for most people as in recent years they have become quite common in sports broadcasts. She claimed the ban on sports stars is a good first step, as prior to the past six months or so, she has seen this proliferation of gaming ads in her life.

Source: R. Dorson, Jill “Ontario Stakeholders Want Clarity on Latest Advertising and Marketing UpdatesSportsHandle, September 26, 2023