A recent Toronto Maple Leafs’ game caused a significant backlash, bombarding fans with constant sports betting promos. Although the region already has substantial restrictions on sportsbook marketing, anti-gambling advocates are calling for a complete ban, similar to Italy or Spain. However, stellar growth during the industry’s first year and the regulator’s historically careful approach means that ads are here to stay.
Youth Exposure Remains a Pressing Concern
It is safe to say that sports betting in Ontario has kicked off with a bang. During its first year, players wagered billions with the province’s licensed iGaming companies and sportsbooks as revenues skyrocketed despite heavy competition. However, with 44 operators and 75 gaming websites, the battle for market share means that ads are also at an all-time high.
The latest clash between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers featured roughly eight and a half minutes of wagering ads, including a 30-second promotional video. This example is the latest argument behind the Ban Ads For Gambling campaign. Joining education professionals, athletes, and other concerned individuals, the group advocates for a complete ban on all wagering advertisements.
Members express rising concerns about the industry’s negative societal impacts, especially regarding the country’s youth. While Ontario regulations prohibit marketing to underage persons, children are nonetheless exposed to them on TV and online. Canadian Olympic medalist Clara Huges noted that such advertising normalized gambling, endangering young people from potential future addiction.
Shame on the respective government systems allowing this in the first place.
Canadian Olympic medalist Clara Huges
Clara Huges, Olympic medalist
The group has already sent a letter to Canadian Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez, arguing their point. Another significant concern revolved around onboarding celebrities and athletes for promotional materials, as such individuals often had substantial followings among the country’s youth. The campaign also seeks avenues outside government intervention, hoping to improve awareness and encourage open discussion regarding the problem.
Ontario’s Regulator Has Proven More than Capable
Despite the organization’s efforts, a complete ban on gambling ads in Ontario currently seems unlikely. Although strict, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) usually prefers a more subdued approach. However, the regulator is also concerned regarding promotions involving athletes and is considering revising its advertising restrictions. AGCO has specifically called out the effect of such advertisements on young people, meaning its views largely match those of campaigners.
Ontario remains one of the strictest North American jurisdictions, sporting substantial limits on advertising and sign-up bonuses and an unwavering focus on player protection. While lengthy ads and celebrity endorsements may pose risks to the country’s youth, the regulator has proven capable of adapting to rising challenges and prioritizing consumer safety over all else.