Legislators in the Canadian province of Ontario have announced a sports betting advertising ban, which will effectively end the use of well-known athletes in gambling marketing campaigns.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced on Tuesday that the use of athletes in online sports betting advertising and marketing campaigns will be prohibited, and confirmed the new restrictions will come into effect at the end of February next year.
In a push to protect those most vulnerable to gambling addiction, provincial lawmakers also stressed the importance of implementing tighter restrictions on the use of celebrities and public figures, who may appeal to minors.
Ontario only allowed customers to bet on parlays and horse racing up until Bill C-218 was passed into law last summer.
In doing so, it became the first province to to launch a regulated independent sports betting program, but pressure from advocate groups after just a year, who claim the impact of celebrity-endorsed advertisements could have an adverse effect, has already led to change.
With ice hockey being as popular as it is in Ontario, NHL stars such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have been seen in recent sports betting adverts.
In AGCO’s report, it reads: “The proposal comes after significant criticism from advocates, experts and parents about the notable rise of online gambling advertisements, especially during live sports.
“For example, during a 2023 playoff series game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers, nearly eight and a half minutes of advertisements were dedicated to online sport gambling.”
Tom Mungham, the AGCO’s CEO, later spoke of the sports betting advertising ban in a statement, saying: “Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to.
“We’re therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario’s youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.”