Ontario Rolls Ban on Celebrity Imagery Use in Gambling Ads

On Wednesday, February 28, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) rolled out the measure which is designed to safeguard against the proliferation of gambling harm and problem gambling in the jurisdiction.

Firm Bulwark Against Gambling Harm

The decision follows a public consultation on the matter, and it aligns with a higher ambition to ensure that consumers are steered clear of harmful practices. Moving forward, no active or retired athletes may appear on advertising or promotional materials for internet gambling in the province.

The only case where this is allowed is as part of responsible gambling practices and campaigns, with influencers, celebrities, and otherwise well-known entertainers and people of prominence coming under the same restriction.

Yet the onus is on licensed companies in the province to ensure that no transgressions occur and that the new rules are observed to the letter of the law. Operators would have to meticulously study the personalities they want to work with to launch campaigns that are aimed at advertising and boosting awareness for their brands.

The AGCO similarly expects companies to ensure that their advertisement does not appear to minors or individuals under the legal gambling age. The rules further ensure that the industry is advertising more responsibly and ethically, including a prohibition that now bans ads to appear near schools, among a select list of venues.

The ban has been welcomed by the Canadian Mental Health Association which congratulated the regulator on the swift execution of its plans, journeying from public consultation to consideration, to implementation. A spokesperson for the association, Camille Quenneville, called the new rules “a critical step” designed to safeguard consumers.

Beware of the Pitfalls

Yet, Quenneville used the opportunity to also speak about “alarming trends” in online gambling, and especially among young people who are the most at risk of falling victim to harmful gambling practices. Jurisdictions such as the Netherlands still discover that a quarter of individuals under the age of 24 are moderate-to-risk gamblers, which is a serious enough concern to merit further addressing.

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“We encourage a public health approach to regulating iGaming. This includes implementing further restrictions on advertising and marketing until all advertising for iGaming is completely prohibited,” Quenneville said, urging the industry to lead by example and protect consumers.

The jili777 provincial market has been looking to strengthen the safeguards available to players, including the rollout of a request for proposals for a self-exclusion system.