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Ontario’s New Betting Advertisement Rules Come into Effect

After announcing its new standards for online gambling advertisements in the summer of 2023, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s new rules for gaming commercials are now in place. As of February 28, 2024, sports betting operators are not allowed to use celebrities in their commercials. The decision was made to help protect children who can be susceptible to such ads.

Ontario introduced an open and competitive market for third-party online operators which went online on April 4, 2022. It reaped tremendous success as in its first 12 months, it handled over CA$35.6 billion in internet bets, placing it in the top five in North America. However, its popularity has also brought in a heavy influx of betting ads, especially during sports broadcasts.

New Advertising Standards are in Play

As of February 28, 2024, active and retired sports personalities are no longer allowed to participate in advertising and marketing for iGaming in the province. They can only do so to promote responsible gambling. The new rules also apply to the use of celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon figures, and others that may appeal to minors.

The changes come as part of AGCO’s devotion not to target underage or high-risk individuals with gambling advertising, marketing or other public communications. In addition to that, some rules forbid placing gaming ads near locations such as schools. The changes were announced in the summer, but there was a sort of transitional period for operators.

In the meantime, the Canadian Mental Health Association which is also a major proponent for the ban of celebrities in ads recently commented that with the rise of iGaming, youth are mainly at risk of gambling-related harms. The organization believes the new standards are a key first step in the regulatory action needed to reverse the concerning trend in online gaming across Ontario youth.

However, CMHA believes the restriction should not end here, athletes should also be forbidden from participating in ads promoting responsible gambling practices and that operators should not be allowed to sponsor segments in broadcasts. The organization seeks further regulation until all advertising for online casinos and sports betting is prohibited.

Latest on the Province’s iGaming Sector

A few weeks ago, iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of AGCO, issued the financial report on the province’s iGaming market for Q3 of the fiscal 2023-24. Between October 1 and December 31, 2023, the province handled over CA$17.2 billion worth of online bets. This translated to around CA$658 million in gaming revenue for the quarter.

Soon iGO should provide an update on its search for a centralized self-exclusion solution for an improved and simplified process when bettors decide to take a break from gambling. Soon, the agency will kick off its Request for Proposals and the selected bidder will be able to develop and introduce a centralized system that will support players’ self-exclusion registration, renewal, and reinstatement.

Source: DeClerq, Katherine “Ontario ban on use of celebrities in gambling ads begins todayCTV News, February 28, 2024