The Alcohol and Gaming Commission certainly took its time but now it has finally made changes to the iGaming advertisements rules in the province after concerns about an influx of betting ads. In a press, the regulator announced that it has updated the Registrar's Standards for Internet Gaming to ban the use of athletes in such endorsements, in order to protect children.
Last year, Ontario introduced an open online gambling and sports betting market for private operators, which attracted numerous brands to the local iGaming scenery. However, this has led to an influx of ads featuring some very prominent names from sports or celebrities, endorsing gambling platforms. This became a concern for adults and gambling experts in the province.
New Rules Go into Effect Next Year
AGCO said that the changes will prohibit athletes from featuring in iGaming ads, as a way of protecting children as many say they have been overexposed to such commercials. Standards have also been updated to restrict the use of celebrities who could be appealing to minors. According to the iGaming watchdog, the new restrictions will come into effect on February 28, 2024.
After the first year of iGaming, AGCO identified advertising and marketing approaches that use sports stars and celebrities with an appeal to minors, as potential harm to those under gambling age. That is why it introduced a proposal to ban such athletes from ads. The regulator heard input from a wide range of stakeholders, gambling experts, operators, broadcast and marketing groups, and the public.
After the consultation process, AGCO decided that the ban would help protect children and youth who can be susceptible to such marketing. Now, its updated standards prohibit provincially licensed operators from using active or retired athletes in gaming marketing and advertising. There is an exception, as such sports people can be used to promote responsible gambling practices.
Furthermore, the amended Standards for Internet Gaming limit the use of celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon figures and symbols that are implied to appeal to minors. These changes bolster the existing standard that, before the recent updates, banned the use of advertising and marketing content with a primary appeal to minors.
Market Still Brings Plenty of Benefits
Despite the possible risk of affecting younger demographics, Ontario's iGaming market delivers plenty of positives to the province. Recently, it was reported the first quarter of 2023-2024, or the period between April 1 through June 30, 2023, the province handled an online betting volume of CA$14 billion. This translated into CA$545 million in gaming revenue.
In addition to revenue, it was also revealed that the province's competitive online gambling model has also brought approximately 10,000 jobs, reported Deloitte. It provided more than 1,800 direct jobs with an average of CA$103,000 in annual compensation. the market generated another 7,900 indirect jobs which were created by suppliers to those gambling brands.
Source: “AGCO to ban athletes in Ontario's igaming advertising to protect minors” AGCO, August 29, 2023