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Fiona Simmons April 14, 2023 3 min read
Ontario Wants to Bar Athletes from Appearing in Gambling Advertisement
The image and likeness of athletes could have serious impact on gamblers’ betting habit, says the provincial gambling regulator in Ontario
Therefore, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is debating the potential suspension of promotional deals that involve active or retired athletes. The measure has been pitched for public consideration and is not a final decision.
Revised Rules on Sports Advertisement May Set New Golden Standards
If successful, however, sportsbook and iGaming advertisements that feature the image and likeness of athletes could be cut out entirely. This would have serious implications for the overall way of promoting products but also bring Ontario closer to the lofty regulatory standards in places such as the Netherlands in Europe, for example.
The regulator is similarly looking to also prohibit the use of images and likenesses of celebrities that may appeal to youth. Those figures may include but aren’t limited to cartoon characters, entertainers, and social media influencers. Much of what AGCO’s proposing is not at all new – it’s aligned with standardized gambling advertisement laws in Europe, and therefore has a very good chance of passing.
“The AGCO has identified advertising and marketing approaches that strongly appeal to persons who are under the legal gaming age through the use of celebrities and/or athletes. Concern regarding the potential harmful impact on the most vulnerable population, underage persons, remains high.”
Presently, AGCO is leaving some wiggle room for companies to choose whom they team up to promote. A rule by the regulator says that if a celebrity appeals “mostly to youth,” they may not appear in gambling advertisements, but therein lies the rub. This is open to interpretation. Now, the watchdog wants to couch this in clearer terms so that ambiguations are not possible.
Should a final agreement be reached, AGCO will be moving forward with the enforcement soon after – three months from the time that the rule is implemented. This would mean that companies and athletes would have to fold their betting and gaming sponsorships immediately. There are quite a few companies that employ ambassadors to promote their brands in Ontario.
Athletes Help Brands Connect with Audiences – No More?
What this means is that partnerships between companies such as BetMGM, which has been one of the most active ones in securing ambassadors from the world of Canadian sports, include Kevin Garnett, Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid.
Most of the partnerships signed by sportsbooks and athletes mostly involve retired personalities from the world of sports and this has been a fairly popular way to engage with fan bases in North America.
Things may be changing, at least in Canada, though, as AGCO seems determined to continue raising consumer-protection standards.