AGCO readies to release updated advertising guidelines

The regulator spoke with CGB about what to expect

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) aims to publish the final version of guidelines for its new gambling advertisement standards later this month, according to an email to Canadian Gaming Business. The guidelines are the next step in AGCO’s strategy for minimizing the potential harm of gambling advertisements to children in Ontario after the ban on celebrity endorsements in gaming ads in August 2023.

In the email, the AGCO explained the rationale behind the new standards:

“The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming announced on August 29, 2023, will restrict the use of athletes and celebrities in igaming advertising to help safeguard children and youth who can be particularly susceptible to such advertising content. The standards announced will remain as published and come into effect on Feb. 28, 2024.”

The AGCO also explained its approach to enforcing these new standards.

“Our goal is to work proactively with registered operators to help them meet their regulatory obligations. While we will take strong measures when the situation demands it, our preference is always to work collaboratively towards compliance,” the commission stated.

The commission plans to continually work with igaming operators in the province to ensure marketing strategies follow its guidelines. “Once the new standards are in effect, we have several approaches for monitoring compliance, including ongoing discussions with igaming operators about their marketing and advertising plans, as well as conducting risk-based assessments and operator reviews. We will also be proactive with news media and social media scans and responses to any complaints from the public,” the AGCO explained.

The ban on celebrity endorsements in gambling ads in Ontario came in light of concerns about the potential harm to children and youth. The AGCO noted that children and young people are particularly susceptible to the influence of celebrities and athletes, and their endorsement of gambling could encourage minors to take up gambling.

The new rules prohibited igaming operators from featuring celebrities in advertisements unless the exclusive purpose of the campaign is to advocate for responsible gambling practices.

Subsequently, the need for clearer guidelines became evident as operators in the province’s regulated market sought further clarity following the ban on celebrities in gaming ads. The AGCO’s response to this need included meetings with stakeholders in the legal iGaming sector, starting in early November 2023, to answer questions and provide more details on the new guidelines.

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