The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) decision to ban athletes and most celebrities in igaming adverts has been celebrated by the Official Opposition Ontario NDP, but there are now calls for further action.
The regulator announced its decision to prohibit athletes – whether active or retired – in igaming marketing and advertising last week, except for the exclusive purpose of advocating for responsible gambling practices.
Further restrictions are also set to be placed on the use of celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon figures, and symbols that ‘would likely be expected to appeal to minors’.
Responding to the news last week, the Ontario NDP hailed the decision as a ‘welcome first step’, but has used the development to highlight the PMB (private Members’ bill) it tabled in June, which was their own solution for a ban on igaming advertisements.
The ‘Ban iGaming Advertising Act, 2023’ would prohibit the promotion of online gambling sites by means of advertising, with a minimum and maximum fine of $25,000 and $1m respectively for those who contravene the act.
MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said: “We’ve seen an explosion in advertisements for online gambling ads in the past few years, which puts people with gambling addictions and Ontario youth at risk.
“I’m pleased to see the AGCO’s recognition that more needs to be done, and hope Ford immediately calls our PMB to second reading debate. Let’s keep pushing and get this passed.”
The new restrictions will come into effect on Feb. 24, 2024, according to the Ontario crown agency.
MPP Tom Rakocevic (Humber River – Black Creek), NDP critic for Consumer Protection, added: “For too many years Ontarians lacked effective consumer protections when it came to online gambling. Today’s action from the AGCO is finally a positive step in the right direction – and a sign that our bill with expanded protections is needed.”