An Ontario iGaming ad ban is on the horizon as legislators put forth a proposal aimed at introducing new restrictions on sportsbook promotions. The proposed bill was submitted in the closing days of the spring session, so its examination by lawmakers is deferred until fall. Lisa Gretzky, Member of Provincial Parliament and bill sponsor, noted, “In Toronto, you can barely walk a block without seeing an ad; BetMGM, Bet99, the list goes on: subway stations, on the subway, on the radio.”
Ontario’s Pioneering Stance
Ontario, as the first Canadian province to welcome commercial online gaming operators, has led the way for its counterparts. It’s now aiming to spearhead efforts to manage the marketing frenzy experienced by its residents. The intention to combat iGaming adverts was highlighted by Ontario Liberal Party leader John Fraser. “For many of us, these ads are simply intrusive and really annoying,” Fraser said during a press conference this month. “For some, it comes at a much higher cost, and it’s something that we need to do something about.”
Ontario’s Push for Limits: Echoing U.S. Trends?
Ontario’s move to limit advertising mirrors scrutiny from U.S. sports betting regulators, paying keen attention to sportsbook promotions and partnerships. There’s a growing wave of discontent concerning such adverts, echoed in sentiments from regulatory bodies, public figures, and health advocates. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has even contemplated banning the use of celebrities in sportsbook commercials, a decision that’s currently under review.
Gretzky noted, “The AGCO is exploring the ban on celebrities and sports figures, but we’re saying there should be an outright ban.” This echoes the general sentiment about striking a balance between a thriving gaming industry and responsible gaming principles.
Sustainable Betting: The Ontario Model
Online iGaming took off in Ontario in August 2021 with Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s ProLine+. The industry attracted a remarkable $26.5 billion in wagers in its first commercial year, demonstrating its potential while igniting the push for an open market in Quebec. Yet, as the industry continues to expand, proper checks, balances, and regulations, especially on advertising, are crucial to ensure a sustainable and responsible iGaming landscape.