AGCO Bans Athletes From Ontario Online Casino Advertising

AGCO Bans Athletes From Ontario Online Casino Advertising
By Steve Bittenbender
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Starting next year, you won’t see athletes or other celebrities who appeal to kids appear in Ontario online casinos advertising.

On Tuesday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced new rules to bar online casino and sports betting operators from showing active or retired athletes in their marketing materials. An exception was carved out for spots that promote responsible gambling practices.

The province’s gaming regulatory body also banned social media influencers among other entertainers, symbols, role models and cartoon characters “who would likely be expected to appeal” to children. That’s a change from the current regulation, which prohibits cartoon characters, symbols, role models and entertainers “whose primary appeal” is to youngsters.

“Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to,” AGCO Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham said in a statement from the 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.”

The age limit to wager in Canada’s most populous province is 19. The new rules will take effect on Feb. 28, 2024.

New Rules Could Affect A Few Operators

AGCO announced the proposed rule changes in April, one year after regulated online casinos and Ontario sports betting operators launched in the province. Since launching, regulators have said they would look to change the rules to keep up with the industry.

The new rules will likely have the biggest impact on several operators. BetMGM’s ambassador partners include NHL icon Wayne Gretzky and superstar Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Bet99 has an endorsement deal with Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews and former NHL enforcer Matthew Barnaby.

Messages to both BetMGM and Bet99 were not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

FanDuel has ambassador deals with such athletes as golfers Justin Spieth and Will Zalatoris, plus retired sports stars Rob Gronkowski and Charles Barkley.

In addition to the rules barring the use of athletes and celebrities, AGCO also amended another rule restricting campaigns that would lure bettors who could be considered high-risk players. Where the current regulation tells operators to have “precautions” in place, it will be changed to “measures” instead.

Regulators say they plan to release more information about the rule changes.

Canadian Senator Wants More

Ontario’s rule changes come as a Canadian senator who supported the legalization of single-game sports betting across the country is calling for the federal government to get involved in gaming regulation.

Sen. Marty Deacon, ISG-Ontario, sponsors Senate Bill 269. It calls for the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to develop a “national framework” to regulate ads for Ontario betting apps. In June, Deacon told that her bill was necessary because of the proliferation of sports betting ads hitting the Canadian airwaves. Those spots are reaching people of all ages, including children.

The senator is in Europe attending a conference, but in a statement Tuesday to OntarioBets, she said she welcomed the AGCO news. But she added that she still found it lacking.

“While it is a step in the right direction, I would have liked to see them go further, such as only allowing gambling advertisements on television only after a certain time, as was recently announced in the UK,” Deacon said. “Nor does it negate the need for a single set of national standards that gambling companies must abide by across the country.”

Regulators in other provinces would not be bound to follow AGCO’s lead if they choose to regulate iGaming (Ontario casino apps) and online sports betting.

“Advertising and broadcasting seep across provincial borders, and a patchwork of rules across the country will lead to confusion and do little to protect the most vulnerable,” she added. “Bill S-269 will see to it that the federal government sits down with provinces to create a set of national standards – today’s today’s announcement is a good start – and I will continue to push for its speedy passage when Parliament returns in the fall.”



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters. He shares his expertise on OntarioBets, among other sites.

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