Athletes will no longer be able to appear in Ontario sports betting and online casino advertisements following a decision by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. These restrictions will go into effect on February 28, 2024, and include further rules on individuals appearing in games. Whether or not these changes will also be seen in the United States betting market remains to be seen.
Ontario Banning Athlete Appearances In Betting Ads
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has just announced a complete ban on athletes appearing in any type of online betting advertisements going forward. These particular rules won’t be enforced until February 28, 2024.
This move has been in motion for months now, with the AGCO taking a deeper look into the Ontario betting market’s advertising strategies one year after its initial April 2022 launch. This came in the form of different consultations, which the AGCO began in April of 2023, with responsible gambling experts, public health and mental health organizations, marketing and broadcast groups, the general public, and gaming operators.
The takeaway from the AGCO was the need to protect younger Ontario residents from being exposed to gambling content. Following February 28, 2024, active and retired athletes will only be able to appear in betting-related ads that focus on responsible gaming.
The revised rules go beyond just established athletes, also banning any advertising appearances from any type of celebrity that could appeal to a minor fanbase, such as social media influencers, role models, entertainment figures, even cartoon characters.
In the press release for the announcement, AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham said, “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.”
Will The U.S. Restrict Betting Ads?
The major decision by the AGCO could have larger waves in other betting markets. It’s now been five years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Now, 37 different states have legalized sports wagering, and that number is likely to continue increasing in the coming years.
However, the debate over sports betting advertising and responsible gaming has been a major one in recent years in the U.S., with no shortage of articles criticizing the amount of gambling ads. And the debate might begin to gain traction, as a proposal to ban the majority of sports betting advertisements was submitted to Congress in February of 2023. It remains to be seen if the proposal, called the Betting on Our Future Act, will ultimately result in similar heavy restrictions in the United States.
Something that might influence any changes in advertising is the growing focus on responsible gaming across the U.S., especially in 2023. The year started with the launch of Ohio sports betting, and it was soon clear that the Ohio Casino Control Commission was serious about its responsible gaming push, fining major sports betting operators such as BetMGM Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and Barstool Sportsbook, for different infractions related to marketing and messaging.
This responsible gaming focus continued when Massachusetts rolled out legal sports wagering in March of 2023, and is expected to continue with the upcoming launch of Kentucky sports betting.