Ontario regulator releases guidance for revision of gambling advertising standards, restricting celebrity endorsers

February 10, 2024 12:52 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
February 10, 2024 12:52 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has released guidance for the industry regarding its revised advertising standards, which take effect on Feb. 28.

The AGCO announced changes to its Advertising Standards last August, prohibiting the use of athletes in internet gaming advertising and marketing in Ontario.

Standards have been strengthened to restrict the use of celebrities “who would likely be expected to appeal to minors,” the AGCO said in a statement. Igaming ads, like the ones for BetMGM featuring Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid and retired sports stars Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Garnett, for example, will soon no longer be seen in Ontario.

Specifically, Standard 2.03 was modified where operators shall not:

  • Use or contain cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities, or entertainers who would likely be expected to appeal to minors.
  • Use active or retired athletes, who have an agreement or arrangement made directly or indirectly between an athlete and an operator or gaming-related supplier, in advertising and marketing except for the exclusive purpose of advocating for responsible gambling practices.

Over the past months, the AGCO has been working with igaming operators and other impacted stakeholders to help ensure the successful implementation of the new standards.

That input was used by the AGCO to help draw up the guidance document, which provides much more detail on the definition of “minors,” as well as “role models, social media influencers, celebrities, and entertainers.”

The document offers more explanation as to what constitutes an “athlete,” including clarifying that the new Standard doesn’t include “casual participants in local sports who are not recognized or known as athletes.”

There’s also more clarity on what’s accepted with regards to athletes and responsible-gambling messaging.

With reference to out-of-province advertisements:

  • The AGCO recognizes that there are practical limitations on Registrants with respect to Ontario broadcasters displaying out-of-province advertisements which may not meet the Registrar’s Standards.
  • The AGCO will continue to work with Registrants to address the matter, in order to minimize impacts.
  • The AGCO expects Registrants to continue to take reasonable measures to meet the Registrar’s Standards.