Ontario Stakeholders Hoping To Get Clarity From AGCO

Nearly a month after the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario rolled out new advertising and marketing guidelines for sports betting that ban the use of athletes and celebrities, stakeholders in Canada still aren’t sure what it all means. What’s clear is that we won’t be seeing any more Zamboni races between hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and current star Connor McDavid.

“Where we find ourselves in a bit of conundrum is what the definition of an athlete of a celebrity is,” the Kindred Group’s Amanda Brewer told Steve McAllister on Gaming News Canada earlier this month. “No operator has any appetite to visit the early days of the market launch when the inducement language was clear as mud and operators were getting fined for transgressing those standards.”

Dating back to April 2022, when Ontario became the first Canadian province to launch single-game wagering, operators, suppliers, and vendors have struggled to interpret AGCO rules. PointsBet Canada and BetMGM were hit with fines a month into legal gambling in Ontario for breaking the rules around promotional play, which is banned in the province.

The new regulations go into effect in February.

No celebs won’t mean fewer ads

The latest issue in Ontario, according to Brewer, has more to do with the number of advertisements than who is in them.

“From an integrity point of view, this change makes sense, but it does nothing to address the volume of advertising” she said. “So if the conundrum is how many ads are being featured, and the issue last year seemed to be around the NHL season, that is an issue that needs to be taken up with the NHL and the broadcasters.”

Operators now have five months to understand just what the new AGCO landscape will look like. Besides the use of athletes and

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AGCO to prohibit use of athletes in online gaming advertising, marketing activities in Ontario

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has updated the Registrar’s Standards for online gaming, prohibiting the utilization of athletes in online gaming advertising and marketing activities. The regulator is also restricting the use of celebrities “who would likely be expected to appeal to minors.”

These changes come as a response to growing concerns about the potential adverse effects such promotions might have on underage individuals. The updated standards are set to take effect on February 28, 2024, and follow the first year of Ontario’s regulated iGaming market.

During this period, the AGCO identified several instances where athletes and celebrities were employed in iGaming advertising. The Commission recognized these approaches as potential hazards, particularly to those who are not of legal gambling age, which prompted the regulatory adjustments.

The AGCO’s decision to tighten restrictions on athlete and celebrity endorsements followed comprehensive consultations conducted in April 2023. Stakeholders from various domains, including mental health organizations, public health experts, responsible gambling advocates, gaming operators, broadcasting firms, marketing agencies, and the public, all weighed in on the policy update.

In light of the feedback received during these consultations, the AGCO determined that prohibiting the use of athletes, except for advocating responsible gambling practices, and imposing limitations on celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon characters, and symbols that could have an appeal to minors, was crucial to safeguarding young individuals from potentially harmful content.

Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO of AGCO, underscored the considerable influence athletes and celebrities have on children and youth. Mungham noted: “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.”

In addition

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AGCO prohibits use of pro athletes to advertise, market igaming in Ontario

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TORONTO — The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has banned the use of athletes in the advertising and marketing of internet gaming in Ontario.

The AGCO announced Tuesday it has updated the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming to prohibit the use of athletes. It also strengthened the standards to restrict the use of celebrities who would likely be expected to appeal to minors.

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The new restrictions will come into effect Feb. 28, 2024.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, track star Andre DeGrasse and current NHL stars Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are among the athletes who have appeared in ads for gambling sites.

“Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to,” Tom Mungham, the AGCO’s registrar and CEO, said in a statement., “We’re therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario’s youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.”

The restrictions aren’t surprising. In April, the AGCO held consultations on its proposal for the ban and receive submissions from a host of stakeholders, including public- and mental-health organizations, gambling experts, gaming operations and the public.

In its report Tuesday, the AGCO said its 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.”

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Sports betting became legal in Canada in August, 2021. Ontario became the first province to launch an open, regulated igaming market in April 2022.

Ontario operators can’t advertise or provide marketing materials outlining gambling inducements, bonuses and credits. However before Tuesday’s announcement, there were no limits

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