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AGCO to Provide Guidance on Ad Standards Soon

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario reports that it is applying the finishing touches to its guidance on the new gambling advertisement standards. After the ban on celebrities in gaming ads, operators in the province’s regulated market have called for further clarity. The commission said documents will be issued to stakeholders by January 15, 2024.

Ontario’s iGaming sector caused quite a stir across the country, as after its launch operators started heavy advertisement for their gambling offering. This triggered significant disapproval, leading to AGCO resorting to ban active or retired pro athletes and celebrities from endorsing it, as these superstars tend to be more appealing to children.

Making Final Adjustments

As stakeholders called for clarity on the new standards, the commission started meetings in early November 2023 with participants in the legal iGaming sector. The purpose of the meetings was to answer questions and provide further details on the new guidelines. The latest feedback from the regulator is that the guidance will be released before January 15, 2024.

In a previous email, the commission noted that it was in discussions to develop guidance to support the implementation of amendments to the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming in connection to celebrity endorsements. It said the guidance was developed based on the input and consultations received from industry stakeholders in November 2023.

AGCO insists its main target for this initiative is to deliver added clarity for registered operators, suppliers, and other key participants and thus support successful implementation. Once finished, the documents will be sent out to operators, suppliers, sports teams and leagues, media companies, along other stakeholders by the end of the month.

So far none of the licensed operators have been penalized for targeting minors with their promotional campaigns since the start of the iGaming framework in April 2022. Also, the regulator has commented that the focus of the new gambling advertisement standards is to further minimize the potential harm to youth and children in the province.

Bishops Unite Against Gambling Ads

However, some believe that the ban on celebrities in ads is not enough to protect vulnerable individuals. Just recently bishops from the province have joined forces to oppose betting ads. The bishops believe that similar to tobacco, gambling activities should not be promoted as it can have a deep effect on an individual’s welfare.

In a statement, they urged the province to recognize that the well-being of people can be largely affected by gambling addiction and highlighted the prevalence of gaming ads via the new iGaming model. They have also advised Anglicans to join the Campaign to Ban Ads on Gambling, which calls for outright prohibiting of betting promotions and ads.