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Ontario bans sports stars, celebrities from gambling ads

| By Richard Mulligan
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will ban gambling operators from featuring athletes and celebrities in their marketing campaigns from 28 February 2024.
Ontario celebrities ad ban, safeguarding, AGCO, igaming ontario

AGCO has updated rules to prohibit the use of athletes in marketing in the Canadian province. The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming have also been extended to restrict the use of celebrities who might appeal to minors.

AGCO made the change after it identified the potential harm to those under the legal gaming age.

The amended standards will prohibit registered igaming operators in Ontario from featuring active or retired athletes. However, they will be able to feature in campaigns with the exclusive purpose of advocating for responsible gambling practices.

“Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to,” said Tom Mungham, registrar and chief executive at AGCO. “We’re therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario’s youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.”

Safeguarding children and youth

AGCO said it reviewed its rules following the first year of Ontario’s regulated igaming market. It said it identified approaches that use individuals with an appeal to minors as a potential harm.

AGCO held consultations on its proposal to ban such ads and received submissions from stakeholders in April 2023. These included mental health and public health organisations, responsible gambling experts, gaming operators and the public.

The body has now determined that prohibiting the use of athletes and restricting celebrity endorsements would help to safeguard children and youth.

The amended standards also restrict the use of any role models and symbols that might appeal to minors. AGCO said this broadens the standard that previously prohibited the use of content with a “primary appeal to minors”.

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