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Experts Seek Outright Ban on Sports Betting Ads

In the summer of last year, Ontario passed changes to limit sports betting advertisements and the changes come into play this month. However, Canadian experts believe that the prohibition of using sports starts in such ads is not enough, and call for an outright ban on all sports wagering commercials, due to their potential impact on children and youth.

The recent increase in sports betting advertisements across Canada can be explained by the decriminalization of single-event sports betting by the federal government in August 2021. Shortly after that Ontario launched the first of its kind open iGaming sector for third-party operators, which invited interest from dozens of private brands which are now licensed by the province.

Specialists Share Input

Former Olympian Bruce Kidd, who is now professor emeritus of sport policy at the University of Toronto recently shared that studies from different countries show that young people are vulnerable to these ads making them gamble. He said those kinds of ads groom children and youth to become life-long bettors and risk developing addictions in the future.

Meanwhile, University of Toronto – Scarborough psychology professor Steve Joordens, explains that part of the issue of gambling is that it is connected to random rewards and a dopamine rush. He added that ads are often designed to get some to start gaming, and thanks to online gambling there is no reason for them to go to land-based casinos, as it can be done through a mobile device.

In the summer of 2023, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced its decision to ban active and retired athletes, celebrities, and influencers from promoting betting services. However, Mr. Joordens notes that the normalization of ads and the influx of such commercials can be harmful to children, as these endorsements have become integrated into many sports broadcasts.

On top of that gaming ads can also affect the already vulnerable population. Back in 2022, Statistics Canada issued a report which discovered that more than 300,000 residents of the country are at severe or moderate risk of developing gambling-related problems. The study was conducted in 2018 and these numbers could be even more inflated going into 2024.

Bill to Regulate Ads on a Nation-Wide Level

In the meantime, a similar bill for the regulation of sports betting ads has been presented to the Canadian Senate. It would establish a national framework and restrict wagering commercials while also promoting research for the prevention and diagnosis of minors involved in harmful gambling activities. The bill was submitted a while ago by Sen. Marty Deacon.

Mr. Kidd admits that the bill has potential, but remarks that Canadians face different degrees of regulations from each province, as Ontario introduces some of the most aggressive rules for gambling operators. He notes banning celebrities and athletes is a good first step, but believes more should be done on the matter, such as removing them from being read by broadcasters.

Source: Previl, Sean “Sports gambling ads seem to be everywhere in Canada. Why some want a banGlobal News, January 28, 2024