Over the last year, sports betting advertisements have become more and more prevalent in Ontario, and some individuals are far from happy with it. One of those is Senator Martha “Marty” Deacon who represents the Waterloo region and believes that the situation in the province has gotten out of control. She calls for national regulation regarding the influx of ads.
The increase in sports wagering advertising can be explained by the legalization of the decriminalization of single-event betting in the country in August 2021. This essentially paved the way for Ontario to open up its iGaming space for private operators, which subsequently led to over 40 operators gaining approval to operate in the local sector.
Ads are Annoying and Dangerous
Ms. Deacon who represents Waterloo as an independent commented that the number of ads that encourage people to gamble on sporting events is both annoying and dangerous. She mentioned that such ads often feature celebrities or athletes, which makes them very attractive and addictive, which can draw the younger generation and vulnerable individuals.
That is why she submitted legislation to create a national framework to regulate sports betting ads and limit or ban celebrities and sports stars from featuring in those commercials. Her idea is also to limit the number of ads displayed in a location. She noted that gambling endorsements spiked at a rate that was not anticipated and that the country must act on it now.
Meanwhile, sports fans and bettors also notice that these ads become more and more prevalent. One hockey fan noted that it was particularly noticeable while watching the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL playoffs. It was estimated that there were more than eight minutes of sports betting ads displayed during Game 1 of the series against the Florida Panthers.
The Senator reckons that sports wagering companies have to be socially responsible when promoting their product and remind people that gambling can lead to problems. She is not calling for complete bans of commercials but explained that it would take time to make a change as the Senate bill will need to go through a second and third reading before heading back to the House of Commons.
A few months ago, the Canadian Mental Health Association has also weighed in on the topic of gaming ads and also called for a ban on such commercials. It noted that the province has seen a concerning increase in Grades 7 to 12 students wagering money on online gambling. The association also indicated that approximately 15% of students have participated in real-money iGaming.
Regulator Says Changes Are on the Way
However, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission which regulates Ontario's market for online gambling said that the changes in ads rules are close. This was reported by Tom Mungham, CEO and registrar who in June during the Canadian Gaming Summit said amendments are weeks away and not months. But since then, there has been no update from the AGCO.
Source: Boswell, Craig “Advertising Rules Unwritten in Ontario as Ads go Full Throttle” Casino.org, August 2, 2023