Ontario Strictly Bans Celebrities In Online Gambling Ads

Celebrity Free Gambling Regulations

Ontario Strictly Bans Celebrities In Online Gambling Ads

The Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) has introduced regulations to ban the use of celebrities, athletes, and influencers in online gambling advertisements in Ontario, Canada. While the specific celebrities used in Canadian ads that have now been banned may not be publicly disclosed, the regulations aim to prevent the use of any such figures who could appeal to minors and vulnerable individuals. The focus of these regulations is to protect these groups from the influence of celebrities in gambling promotions, rather than targeting individual celebrities or advertisements.

In a commendable move to protect minors from the allure of online gambling advertisements, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is making significant strides. While celebrities have long been a staple in marketing campaigns to capture audience attention, Ontario’s regulatory authority is now prioritizing the safeguarding of its youth.

AGCO’s Core Mission: Safeguarding Minors from Online Gambling Temptations

The primary mission of AGCO revolves around shielding minors from the enticing tactics employed in online gambling advertising and marketing strategies. In a recent development, AGCO announced crucial amendments to the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

These amendments explicitly prohibit the use of athletes, social media influencers, celebrities, entertainers, role models, cartoon characters, and icons in online gambling promotions within the Canadian province. The revised standards are slated to take effect on February 28, 2024.

Revealing the Motivation Behind the Ban

The decision to implement these stringent regulations arose when AGCO identified that online gambling companies were actively featuring athletes in their advertising campaigns. The concern was that such campaigns had an appeal to minors.

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Consultation and Engagement with Stakeholders

In April 2023, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario initiated consultations regarding its proposal to prohibit these types of advertisements.

The Commission gathered input from a diverse array of stakeholders, including mental health and public health organizations, responsible gaming experts, gaming operators, broadcast and marketing entities, as well as input from the general public. As a result of this comprehensive research and feedback, AGCO decided to amend its standards.

Advocating Responsible Gambling

Under the new regulations, active or retired athletes can only be featured in advertisements that promote responsible gambling practices. Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO of AGCO emphasized the rationale behind these changes, stating that “The profound impact that athletes and celebrities have on the impressionable minds of children and young people is undeniable.”

Hence, they are taking proactive steps to safeguard the youth of Ontario by implementing measures that prohibit the utilization of these influential figures for the promotion of online betting within the province.

Key Additions to AGCO’s Standards for Internet Gaming

The comprehensive list of additions to AGCO’s Standards for Internet Gaming includes:

Protection of Vulnerable Groups:

This principle emphasizes the importance of responsible advertising in the gambling industry. Online gambling ads should not target vulnerable individuals, including underage, high-risk, or self-excluded players.

To implement this, operators and advertisers must employ stringent age verification procedures to ensure that only adults have access to gambling content. They should also cross-reference self-exclusion lists to avoid targeting individuals with gambling addiction issues.

Minors as a Target Audience:

The prohibition against appealing to minors in terms of themes or language in advertisements is crucial. This means that the marketing materials should not use child-friendly themes, characters, or language that could attract underage audiences.

Advertisers must ensure that their content is designed for adults and does not inadvertently appeal to children.

Proximity to Youth-Oriented Locations:

This rule prohibits placing gambling ads close to schools or places primarily frequented by minors. Such locations could include playgrounds, community centres, or youth clubs.

The intention is to prevent the exposure of young individuals to gambling advertisements and to maintain a safe and responsible advertising environment.

No Use of Celebrities or Influencers:

This regulation aims to eliminate the use of celebrities, influencers, or entertainers who have a strong appeal to minors in gambling advertisements.

The objective is to prevent celebrities and influencers from inadvertently encouraging underage individuals to engage in gambling activities.

Responsible Athlete Representation:

Responsible Celebrity Representation

Active or retired athletes can be featured in advertising and marketing, but only for the exclusive purpose of promoting responsible gambling practices.

Athletes can serve as positive role models by endorsing responsible gambling behavior, and their involvement should focus on this aspect.

Minors as Promoters:

Individuals who appear to be minors cannot be used to promote gambling in any form.

This measure aims to prevent any association between minors and gambling, even in promotional content.

Audience Targeting:

Safe Advertising Environment

Ads should not appear in media and venues primarily directed at minors or where the audience is expected to be predominantly minors.

Advertisers must carefully choose the platforms and channels for their gambling ads to avoid exposure to minors.

Avoiding Exploitation:

Advertisements should not exploit the vulnerabilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience, or lack of knowledge of high-risk individuals.

This rule ensures that gambling advertisements are not designed to take advantage of people who may be more susceptible to gambling-related harm.

Preventing High-Risk Player Attraction:

Measures should be in place to limit marketing communications to known high-risk players. This involves using data and analytics to identify individuals who may be at risk of developing gambling problems and ensuring that they are not targeted with promotional materials.

These substantial changes mark a pivotal step towards ensuring responsible gaming practices and safeguarding the well-being of minors in Ontario. AGCO’s commitment to these regulations underscores its dedication to protecting vulnerable groups within the gaming industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ontario AGCO, and what is its role in regulating online gambling?

The Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) is the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing various aspects of gaming and alcohol in the province of Ontario, Canada. This includes regulating online gambling activities.

Why has the Ontario AGCO decided to prohibit the use of celebrities in online gambling advertisements?

The AGCO has implemented this prohibition to protect minors and vulnerable individuals from the influence of celebrities in gambling advertisements, as these endorsements may make such activities more appealing to these groups.

When will these regulations prohibiting the use of celebrities in gambling ads take effect?

The revised standards, including the ban on using celebrities, athletes, and influencers, are set to take effect on February 28, 2024.

What are some examples of celebrities and figures that are not allowed in gambling advertisements under these regulations?

The regulations explicitly mention athletes, social media influencers, celebrities, entertainers, role models, cartoon characters, and icons. These individuals or figures should not be featured in internet gaming promotions in Ontario.

Were there specific incidents or reasons that prompted the AGCO to introduce these regulations?

Yes, The AGCO identified that iGaming companies were actively using athletes in their advertising campaigns, which raised concerns about the appeal of such campaigns to minors. This prompted the regulatory changes.

How did the AGCO consult with stakeholders and the public regarding these regulations?

In April 2023, the AGCO initiated consultations, gathering input from various stakeholders, including mental health and public health organizations, responsible gaming experts, gaming operators, broadcast and marketing entities, and the general public.

What are the penalties or consequences for operators who violate these regulations?

Operators found in violation of these regulations may face penalties, warnings, or other regulatory actions as determined by the AGCO.

Are there any exceptions to the ban on celebrities in gambling ads in Ontario?

Yes, there is an exception: active or retired athletes can be featured in advertisements that promote responsible gambling practices.

How will these regulations help protect vulnerable groups, including minors, from the influence of celebrities in gambling advertisements?

These regulations aim to create a safer advertising environment by eliminating the use of influential figures who may attract minors to gambling and by promoting responsible gambling practices.

What is the broader goal of AGCO in implementing these regulations?

The AGCO’s broader goal is to ensure responsible gaming practices and protect the well-being of minors and vulnerable individuals in Ontario. These regulations are part of their commitment to achieving this goal within the gambling industry.

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