Published April 13, 2023 9:07 p.m. ET
A gambler places a bet at the FanDuel sportsbook in East Rutherford N.J. on Aug. 30, 2021. The American Gaming Association says 45.2 million Americans plan to bet on NFL games this season, up 36% from last year. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Online gambling operators in Ontario could soon be banned from featuring athletes and celebrities in their commercials.
The ban is being proposed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO), which said the goal is to minimize “potential harm to youth and children.”
The Crown agency noted that part of its mandate is to monitor and identify “emerging risks” and update the standards to mitigate them.
“The AGCO 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,” it wrote in an online post on Thursday.
“Concern regarding the potential harmful impact on the most vulnerable population, underage persons, remains high.”
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid are among the high-profile athletes who have starred in online sports betting promotions.
The AGCO said the changes would create an obligation for operators and suppliers to stop any advertising and marketing activities using active or retired athletes.
It would also ban the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influences, celebrities or entertainers “who are reasonably expected to appeal to minors.”
“Since the introduction in April 2022 of a new internet gaming market in Ontario, a key objective has been to create a safe, competitive, and well-regulated igaming environment for the people of Ontario. From the outset, the AGCO has indicated that it would assess and update the regulatory framework as the market evolves,” the Crown agency wrote.
It added that it is engaging with stakeholders until May 8 to get feedback on the changes.
The Crown agency said the new rules will be implemented three months after being approved to provide operators sufficient time to comply.