The campaign against sports betting advertisements in Ontario is gathering further pace with commercials now facing political pushback.
John Fraser, MPP for Ottawa South and Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, addressed these issues last week when he tabled a motion in the Legislature calling for stricter regulation of online sports betting and gambling advertisements.
He said: “The sheer volume of these advertisements, especially during live sports broadcasts, is dangerous because it puts children, and those of us who are vulnerable to addiction, at risk.”
Fraser later added to his comments in the Legislature, writing on Twitter: “In Ontario, it seems like you can’t escape the constant pressure to bet on sports or gamble online.
“Watching sports, it feels like every other ad is telling you to bet on the game.
“Gambling can have serious consequences, and the rules around these ads need to be stricter.”
In Ontario, it seems like you can’t escape the constant pressure to bet on sports or gamble online.
Watching sports, it feels like every other ad is telling you to bet on the game.
Gambling can have serious consequences, and the rules around these ads need to be stricter. pic.twitter.com/R1GHWf7pP3
— John Fraser (@JohnFraserOS) June 1, 2023
Furthermore, the Ontario Liberal Party issued a public plea on its website asking the Government to liaise and assist regulatory bodies and stakeholders, such as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), ‘to further regulate the frequency of online gambling and sports betting advertisements, specifically during live television, radio, and online sporting events’.
The post also cited a 2021 report from the Centre for Addiction Mental Health (CAMH), which found that even before the legalization of single-game sports betting, 15% of students in grades seven to 12 reported gambling with money online in the previous year, up from 4% in 2019.
Pertinently, the CAMH recently proposed a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertisements during sports broadcasts, while another mental health organization – the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – has urged the AGCO to prohibit all forms of igaming advertising in the province.
Fraser added: “Mental health and addictions are a public health matter and we have an obligation to treat them as such.
“Regulation of the frequency at which online gambling and sports betting advertisements are shown during live sporting events is the very least we can do to combat gambling addictions and uphold our commitment to protecting Ontarians’ mental health and wellbeing.”
Other public outcries against the volume and nature of sports betting advertisements in Ontario include the ‘Campaign to Ban Ads for Gambling’, which lists Karl Subban – father of ex-ice hockey star PK – as a member.
The ‘Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising’ was also recently formed by industry heavyweights such as MLB and NBCUniversal.