Saturday 30 September 2023

From February 2024, Athletes and Celebrities Will No Longer Feature in iGaming Advertising in Ontario

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Months of consultations regarding the strengthening of standards surrounding iGaming in Ontario reached a conclusion with an announcement from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This announcement covered the use of athletes and celebrities in iGaming advertising.

AGCO stated that it had made a decision to ban athletes and other celebrities from advertising for iGaming in Ontario starting from February 2024. The ban includes influencers, cartoon characters, and role models who would appeal to young people.

In the case of athletes, the ban applies to those who are retired as well as stars who are still competing. The only exception to the ban is the use of sports stars and celebrities to advocate for responsible gambling practices.

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These responsible gambling practices exist at all online casinos in Ontario as providers ensure the safety and fairness of play for all customers. Other protective measures for players include SSL security on casino websites and the use of secure payment methods such as Visa, Mastercard, and Interac.

The new AGCO ruling represents a strengthening of previous measures. These measures included a ban on advertising content that primarily appeals to minors.

Five months have passed since AGCO first revealed its proposals to prohibit athletes and other well-known figures from iGaming advertising. Since then, a consultation process has taken place involving interested parties such as public health organizations, responsible gambling proponents, gaming operators, and members of the public.

Now, that process is complete, and AGCO has announced its ban on athletes and celebrities in iGaming advertising. Tom Mungham, AGCO Registrar and CEO, spoke about the organization’s reasoning when imposing the ban. He stated that the new rules aim to protect children and young people who are heavily influenced by sports stars and other celebrities.

The new rules are added to the AGCO Standards for Internet Gaming. The updated standards include a requirement that marketing materials and communications must not:

  • Include themes or language that appeal primarily to minors.
  • Be included on billboards or other advertising displays that are close to schools or other youth-centric premises.
  • Include cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities, or entertainers who appeal to minors (one of the new updates).
  • Include current or retired athletes except for the purposes of advocating responsible gambling (one of the new updates).
  • Feature the appearance of anyone who is, or appears to be, a minor.
  • Feature in venues or media, including online media that is either directed at minors or has an audience that primarily consists of minors.
  • Exploit the vulnerabilities of high-risk individuals or extoll the virtues of iGaming.
  • Entice high-risk players to iGaming with measures in place to limit advertising to these players instead.

This could be the last major announcement with Tom Mungham as AGCO Registrar and CEO, as he is retiring next month. Dr. Karin Schnarr will take over as CEO and Registrar and will oversee any future announcements regarding AGCO standards. It remains to be seen if and when any such announcement will happen, but AGCO reviews its standards on an ongoing basis as it aims to make the Ontario-regulated iGaming market a safe place to play and to protect individuals who may be considered high risk to experience potential harm.

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Carter Maddox
Carter is self-described as thirty-three-and-a-half years old and his thirty-three-and-a-half years birthday is always on March 3. Carter characteristically avoids pronouns, referring to himself in the third person (e.g. "Carter has a question" rather than, "I have a question"). One day [in 1984], Carter, raised himself up and from that day forward we could all read what Carter writes.

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