Ontario bans athletes from iGaming ads, but MPP wants more

This finally led Ontario's Alcohol and Gaming Commission to update the registrar's standards for internet games, banning athletes from appearing in betting ads and limiting the use of celebrities in those ads. But MPP Lisa Gretzky believes the state should do more to deal with the problem. The regulator's new protocol will come into effect on February 28, 2024.

In June, four members of the Ontario NDP, including Gretzky, submitted a bill to individual members to ban all iGaming advertising altogether. Ontario launched online gambling for private operators in April 2022, which attracted numerous private brands, eventually leading to an influx of marketing. This angered many parents in the province.

Ms. Gretzky said their bill was tabled for the first reading, but after the AGCO's recent decision, she hopes the government recognizes the importance of the bill to return for the second reading. She said that since iGaming began last year, the spread of advertising has been followed by athletes and celebrities who promote gambling websites.

However, she pointed out that there are many people in the province who are vulnerable to addiction, especially young adults who often suffer from gambling debt. The MPP also shared that suicides are on the rise, with many feeling they are not finding a way out of it. She also said that some mental health agencies demand an absolute ban on advertising.

Ontario's updated standards will ban state-sanctioned online game operators from using active or retired athletes in gambling marketing and advertising. However, there are exceptions because athletes will be allowed to encourage responsible gambling schemes. The change also limits the use of celebrities and other role models because it is expected to appeal to minors.

EGICO announced in April that it would take action against excessive iGaming advertisements in the province, and after reviewing this, it listened to stakeholders such as mental health and public health organizations, responsible gambling experts, iGaming operators, broadcasting and marketing organizations.

But the rule has not yet been implemented, and Mr. Gretzky is disappointed. She pointed out that this is because AGCO is fair to iGaming operators who have already spent millions of dollars working with sports stars and celebrities. But she warned that the delay in change risks witnessing more gambling addiction, especially among children and teenagers who are overexposed to such ads.

The game's commercial attack was targeted by the Ontario Liberal Party. In June 2023, the party's interim leader, John Frazier, tabled a motion urging the state legislature to implement a new approach to betting advertising. He explained that many advertisements were annoying and quite annoying, while others paid much higher costs.

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