Ontario Proposes Ban on Using Athletes and Celebrities in iGaming Advertising | Bennett Jones LLP

Key Takeaways

  • AGCO proposes banning the use of athletes and celebrities from internet gambling advertising and marketing in Ontario.
  • Comments can be submitted to AGCO until May 8, 2023.
  • New rules would be implemented three months after being finalized.
  • Operators and suppliers should consider the implications of the proposed ban on their existing marketing strategies.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is proposing to prohibit the use of athletes and celebrities from internet gambling advertising and marketing in Ontario. The AGCO says the goal is to further minimize potential harm to youth and children.

The announcement was made on April 13, 2023. The AGCO said it had, “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.”

The proposed amended standard will:

  1. 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,
  2. 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.

Stakeholders can provide comments on the proposed changes until May 8, 2023 through the AGCO’s engagement portal. Operators and suppliers would have three months to comply with the final standard—it would take effect three months following its publication on the AGCO website.

Ontario’s iGaming market was launched on April 4, 2022—see our previous blog, Advertising and Marketing in Ontario’s New iGaming Market: Update for Private Operators, for more details. From the outset, the AGCO said it would assess and update the regulatory framework as the market evolves.

Considerations for iGaming Operators and Suppliers

Some steps that iGaming operators and suppliers in Ontario can take include:

  • considering whether to respond to the proposed changes by May 8, 2023;
  • assessing how their current marketing strategies would be affected under the new rules; and
  • evaluating and auditing their existing contractual arrangements with affiliated celebrities and/or athletes.

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