The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has opened a dialogue with iGaming operators in the province’s market regarding the new sports betting and gaming advertising standards. These new rules were announced in the summer and prohibit the use of celebrities and athletes in advertising and marketing. However, stakeholders noted they need some clarity on the changes.
In April 2022, Ontario became the first Canadian province to open its online gambling sector for third-party operators. The new framework saw over CA$35.6 billion in betting handles in the first 12 months and the launch of dozens of private operators. However, the initiative’s success caused an increase in gambling advertisements, which alarmed experts in the province.
Meeting with Industry Leaders
But with the approval of the new advertising and marketing standards, operators in the province are unclear as to what classifies as a celebrity or a pro athlete. Last week, AGCO met with representatives of DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet. It also plans on engaging with broadcast partners such as CBC, Bell Media, and Rogers.
Recently, Canadian Gaming Association President Paul Burns, said the industry is looking for clarity on how to comply with the new rules after the ban. He shared that the association has also joined the dialogue and from what he has heard it has been a good process. In his words, everyone agrees with the premise that advertising should not be influencing youth.
Since the launch of the market in April 2022, operators have resorted to the use of many celebrities and athletes in their promotional material, including hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid, who has been hired as ambassadors by BetMGM, as well as Toronto Maple Leaf Auston Matthews who has agreed to promote Bet99.
AGCO has not specified when it will give more clarity on the matter. Still, it said that it has already received inquiries and requests for clarification from numerous groups that will be required to comply with the new standards coming on February 28, 2024. The regulator will now engage with those groups to deliver additional guidance to help registered operators meet the new criteria.
Fining PointsBet Over Responsible Gambling Provisions
In the meantime, AGCO is closely monitoring if licensed operators are complying with other provincial standards. Recently, the iGaming watchdog imposed a hefty fine on PointsBet Canada worth CA$150,000. This was in relation to the gambling brand failing to provide adequate protection for a bettor who lost over CA$500,000 in under three months.
It was revealed that the said user was marked as potentially high-risk by the operator on several occasions, due to recording substantial losses and making repeated withdrawal cancellations. Still, there were no intervention attempts from the operator. Also, the brand failed to implement a mandatory 24-hour cooling-off period when the player cancelled their per-day deposit limit.
Source: R. Dorson, Jill “Ontario Regulator, Stakeholders Begin Discussions Around New Ad Guidelines” SportsHandle, November 13, 2023