The Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is petitioning the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to take a firm stance against iGaming advertisements. The CMHA cites profound evidence pointing towards the negative effects these promotions have on susceptible individuals and their households.
In a formal proposal to the AGCO, the CMHA requests additional amendments to the Registrar’s Standards that would limit celebrity and athlete involvement in marketing iGaming to the youth. Their specific suggestions include:
- Restrict iGaming advertising to timeframes that minimise child exposure
- Mandate the clear display of responsible gambling messages in iGaming adverts and across other media platforms
- Ensure the potential harms of problem gambling, like its inherently addictive nature, are highlighted in all marketing communications
The Far-reaching Impact of Problem Gambling
In their submission, the CMHA emphasizes that gambling-related harm affects more than just the youth. Estimates indicate over 300,000 Canadians are at risk of such harms. Evidence further suggests iGaming advertising tends to boost overall gambling consumption among those who gamble.
Groups particularly vulnerable to gambling harm include the elderly, low-income earners, those struggling with mental health issues, and individuals with substance use dependencies.
Towards a Public Health Approach
As part of its recommendations, the CMHA Ontario is urging the commission to adopt a public health approach to iGaming regulation. In addition to curbing online gambling ads, they argue that this holistic perspective would help mitigate the societal harms associated with problem gambling. The CMHA’s position is based on the belief that “the risk of gambling-related harms extends beyond young people,” a sentiment that underscores the need for comprehensive measures to protect all sectors of society.
- The CMHA’s push for stricter ad regulation indicates a growing societal concern around the impact of gambling advertising. It suggests the industry may need to prepare for increased scrutiny and potential policy changes, similar to developments in the Netherlands.
- The proposed guidelines highlight the importance of implementing responsible gambling measures in all promotional materials, signalling a need for businesses to revisit their marketing strategies.
- The emphasis on protecting vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with mental health issues, underscores the industry’s responsibility towards ethical and inclusive practices. It’s a call to action for iGaming operators to ensure their operations do not inadvertently perpetuate harm.