Legislative campaigns to curb sports betting ads in Canada continue to mount.
Last week, two Senators introduced a bill, S-269, to create a national framework for advertising on sports betting in Canada. Both sponsors, Sen. Marty Deacon and Sen. Brent Cotter, supported the legalization of single-event sports wagering in 2021.
“Billions and billions of dollars were going into very unfortunate places and out of country, and so we were trying to legalize single betting so that Canadians could bet with Canadian companies, follow Canadian laws, and support the work of provinces and territories,” Deacon told the CBC. “Then what happened as a result of that is a really big torrent of advertising and promotions that is coming out in great, great quantities for all ages and on a regular and daily basis.”
The national legislation comes on the heels of a provincial proposal to ban Ontario sports betting ads. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is also considering rules cutting the use of celebrities in ads.
Proposal resembles tobacco regulation
The bill would create a regulatory framework for sports betting advertising, much like those formulated for the tobacco industry in Canada. Beacon also alluded to multiple European countries setting up sports betting advertising regulations, including the UK, Spain and Belgium.
The proposed rules include the following:
- Limiting or banning celebrities and athletes
- Limiting the number of ads that can be played or shown in a location
- Restricting the use of non-broadcast advertising
- Setting national standards for the prevention and diagnosis of problem gaming and gambling addiction
Push against Canada sports betting ads
The University of Toronto launched “Ban Ads for Gambling” earlier this year. Several high-profile Canadians back the effort, including:
- Children’s singer Raffi
- Former Olympian Clara Hughes
- Former Toronto Mayor John Sewell
- Karl Subban, father of several former NHL players
The Canadian Mental Health Association advocates for companies to stop using celebrities. Multiple Ontario sportsbooks use notable hockey figures for promotion, including Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health wants Ontario iGaming operators to cease advertising during sports broadcasts.
Ontario rules started strict
Ontario regulators allowed the commercial iGaming market to open in April 2022. From the beginning, sportsbooks could not advertise promotional offers without customers first opting in to receive them.
The AGCO was quick to levy fines against multiple operators who broke that rule. The lack of promotional advertising might have hindered the pace at which Ontario operators got up to speed, especially those new to the province and unable to transfer databases from the gray market.
The first year in Ontario attracted $26.5 billion in total wagers, including iCasino and sports betting. The fourth quarter brought in $10.6 billion in bets, compared to $3.1 billion during the first quarter.