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Political Resistance Mounts Against Sports Betting Ads

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has previously announced measures to deal with the increasing influx of sports betting advertising by banning celebrities from featuring in them. However, some Canadian politicians demand more, and a bill has been tabled to develop a national framework on advertising rules for sports wagering.

AGCO oversees Ontario’s regulated market for online gambling and sports betting, which has attracted 47 privately owned operators since its launch. With the licensing of that many brands, it has led to an influx of gaming ads, displayed during sports games. It led to concerns among experts about the potential impact on younger audiences who are exposed to this kind of advertising.

Panel on Potential Impact of Betting Ads

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport recently hosted a panel on the possible impact of sports betting marketing on Canadians. It featured Senator Brent Cotter, Senator Marty Deacon who tabled the national framework bill for the ads, Dr. Bruce Kidd, Professor Emeritus, Sport & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, Martin Sampson, and Jeremy Luke.

Ms. Deacon’s Bill S-269 is now at its second reading in the Senate, and it came in response to the public uproar for further regulation on gambling ads which have been quite prevalent since the launch of the iGaming sector in Ontario. The legislation would require the government to place reasonable limits on such ads to project children by working with province and industry leaders.

The Senator seeks to have the bill passed in the next eight-to12 months and is eager to get the legislation into the Consideration for Committee phase for a debate. A bill can become law in Canada only once both Houses of Parliament have passed the same text and has received royal assent. And panellists want to get it sorted as soon as possible.

AGCO’s Latest Efforts

In the meantime, Ontario’s AGCO is putting more effort into clarifying the recently approved advertising rules banning pro athletes from ads in the province with industry stakeholders. The iGaming watchdog has now engaged in discussions with operators such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet. It also plans on starting talks with broadcast partners such as CBC, Bell Media, and Rogers.

AGCO has not specified when it will give more clarity on the matter. Still, it said that it has already received inquiries and requests for clarification from numerous groups that will be required to comply with the new standards coming on February 28, 2024. The regulator will now engage with those groups to deliver additional guidance to help registered operators meet the new criteria.

While working on the new regulations, the commission has also recently imposed a hefty fine of CA$150,000 on PointsBet Canada for violating the province’s rules for responsible gambling. Reportedly, the operator failed to appropriately intervene and provide help to one of its players in the province who experienced gambling issues and had lost over CA$500,0000 in three months.