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Use of hockey stars on sports betting ads may soon cease

Those sports betting TV ads featuring the likes of Austin Matthews may soon be a thing of the past. At the one-year anniversary of Ontario’s regulated internet gaming (igaming) market, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is proposing a change to internet gambling Advertising Standards, with the goal of further minimizing potential harm to youth and children.

In a news release, AGCO says it has identified advertising and marketing approaches that strongly appeal to persons who are under the legal gaming age through the use of celebrities and/or athletes. “Concern regarding the potential harmful impact on the most vulnerable population, underage persons, remains high.”

The AGCO is therefore proposing to prohibit the use of athletes as well as celebrities that might appeal to children and youth from internet gambling advertising and marketing in Ontario.

AGCO is accepting comments until May 8, 2023. Interested residents can register for the AGCO’s engagement portal.

The proposed amended standard will:

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; and,

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.  Advertising remains a permitted activity, provided other Standards are met.

In order to provide affected operators and suppliers with sufficient time to comply with the proposed new and amended standard, the AGCO is proposing to have it take effect three months following the publication of the final standard on the AGCO website.

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