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AGCO to ban athletes in Ontario’s igaming advertising to protect minors

TORONTO, Aug. 29, 2023 – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has updated the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming to prohibit the use of athletes in internet gaming (igaming) advertising and marketing in Ontario. The standards have also been strengthened to restrict the use of celebrities who would likely be expected to appeal to minors. These new restrictions will come into effect on February 28, 2024.

Following the first year of Ontario’s open, regulated igaming market, the AGCO identified advertising and marketing approaches that use athletes, as well as celebrities with an appeal to minors, as a potential harm to those under the legal gaming age and is taking this step to reduce the risk. In April 2023, the AGCO held consultations on its proposal to ban such ads and received submissions from a broad range of stakeholders including mental health and public health organizations, responsible gambling experts, gaming operators, broadcast and marketing groups, and the public.

Following these consultations, the AGCO has determined that prohibiting the use of athletes and restricting celebrity endorsements would help safeguard children and youth who can be particularly susceptible to such advertising content.

The amended standards will prohibit registered Ontario igaming operators from using athletes, whether active or retired, in igaming marketing and advertising, except for the exclusive purpose of advocating for responsible gambling practices. These amended standards also restrict the use of celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon figures, and symbols that “would likely be expected to appeal to minors”. This broadens and strengthens the existing standard that, prior to this change, prohibited the use of advertising and marketing content with a “primary appeal to minors”.

“Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to,” said Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO, AGCO. “We’re therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario’s youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.”


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