The already strict advertising climate of Ontario sports betting could tighten more.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario proposed a change to its advertising standards, which would potentially ban the use of celebrities and athletes in advertising. The proposal was announced last week and the AGCO will accept comments until May 8.
The AGCO hopes stricter advertising rules help minimize the harm from Ontario sportsbooks to children and potential problem gamblers.
Proposed changes to Ontario sports betting
The AGCO’s proposal could eliminate commercials like bet365’s ad with actor Aaron Paul and the use of athletes, like BetMGM’s partnership with NHL great Wayne Gretzky.
The actual proposed changes:
- “Create an obligation for operators and suppliers to cease any advertising and marketing activities that use athletes, whether active or retired, in gaming marketing and advertising.”
- “Prohibit the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who are reasonably expected to appeal to minors.” This proposed amendment differs from the current standard, which is applicable to persons that “primarily appeal to minors.”
The proposed expansion of advertising regulations is following a trend of markets potentially strengthening their rules.
Ontario already a strict market
Ontario’s commercial online gaming market launched with some of the most stringent advertising rules in North American jurisdictions. Regulators prohibited promotional inducements unless a sports bettor explicitly opted to receive them.
The AGCO fined multiple operators within the first few months, including BetMGM, DraftKings and PointsBet. The penalties stemmed from advertising promos on social media, TV and transit ads.
The advertising restrictions could have played a part in a slow start to Ontario sports betting. However, the province is starting to see its revenue figures rise after more than a full year of market activity.
Online gaming operators in the province generated $1 billion in revenue from $26.5 billion in wagers during the first year.