The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will ban athletes in internet gaming ads from February 28, 2024, and limit celebrity endorsements appealing to youth.
This move comes after the AGCO’s observation during Ontario’s inaugural year of an open and regulated igaming market. Recognizing the possible dangers posed by marketing strategies that leverage athletes and youth-oriented celebrities, the commission has taken deliberate steps to mitigate the risks to minors.
In 2023, extensive consultations took place, garnering opinions from an array of stakeholders such as public health entities, mental health organizations, experts in responsible gambling, gaming operators, marketing groups, and the general public. The consensus supported the notion that curbing the use of athletes and celebrity faces in advertisements can act as a significant deterrent, protecting susceptible young minds from the allure of online gambling.
Ontario’s gaming operators, as per the revised standards, are now restricted from using both active and retired athletes in their igaming promotions. The only exception would be to champion responsible gambling messages. The update goes further to limit the presence of influential figures, be it celebrities, social media personalities, or even animated characters, particularly if they are perceived to resonate with minors. This stringent approach is a departure from the previous rule that primarily targeted content designed to charm younger demographics.
Tom Mungham, the AGCO’s CEO and Registrar, shed light on the motive behind these amendments. He noted the profound impact celebrities and athletes can have on the young populace, emphasizing the commission’s intensified efforts to shield Ontario’s younger generation from the seductions of online betting.
In an era of omnipresent digital marketing, the AGCO’s proactive steps signify a laudable attempt to prioritize the well-being of younger audiences. By reining in the influential power of celebrated figures, Ontario is ensuring a safer online environment, highlighting the importance of responsible advertising in the digital age.