Ontario Bans Online Sports Betting Ads From Featuring Celebrity Athletes

Celebrities banned from appearing in gambling adverts

From February 24 2023, iGaming business and casino companies based in Ontario cannot advertise using athletes or celebrities after a decision from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The move comes after concerns in the region about the impact that the advocacy of influential stars has on young people with respect to gambling. Figures such as ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and current NHL players Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have all been included in promotional campaigns since Ontario began accepting independent online gambling sites last year.

Tom Mungham, the AGCO's registrar and CEO, said in a statement: 

Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to. We're therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario's youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.

Move Comes After Consultation With Public

The spotlight has been on the tense relationship between the regional government of Ontario, its voting public, and the gambling industry since the practice was legalised early last year.

One of the reasons for the ban has partly come from persistent criticism from advocates and parents aimed towards the government. Mental health organisations, gambling experts, and gaming operators have all had their say. Still, Canadian senator Marty Deacon, responsible for submitting the proposal, believed the rules hadn't gone far enough and expects other regions to take similar regulatory steps.

He said: 

While it's a step in the right direction, I would have liked to see them go further. If other provinces open betting to private markets, nothing compels them to implement the same advertising standards.

How Popular Is iGaming in Ontario?


Figures from the third quarter of iGaming in Ontario in 2022 show that gambling is prevalent in the region, meaning regulators have difficulty finding a balance.

The latest market performance report from iGaming Ontario for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022-23 (July 1 to September 30, 2022) has shown a significant increase in total wagers and gaming revenue. The total stakes amounted to $11.53 billion, representing a remarkable growth of 91% compared to Q2. It should be noted that this figure does not include promotional wagers or bonuses.

Moreover, the total gaming revenue for Q3 was recorded at $457 million, a 71% increase from Q2. This revenue includes all cash wagers players make, including rake, tournament, and other fees. It also subtracts player winnings derived from cash wagers without considering operating costs or other liabilities.

As of December 31, 2022, there were 36 Operators (a 50% increase from Q2) and 68 gaming websites (a 62% increase from Q2). For an up-to-date list of these Operators and gaming sites, please refer to iGaming Ontario's website.

The number of active player accounts also significantly increased, reaching 910,000 in Q3. This represents a growth of 45% from Q2 and includes cash and promotional wagering activity. The study's authors emphasise that not all accounts represent unique players, as individuals may have accounts with multiple Operators.

Why is the Ontario Regulatory Body Unique?

Ontario has innovatively structured its iGaming sector. Going beyond the traditional system of merely issuing operators a license, the Ontario government has established iGaming Ontario. This entity facilitates unusual market entry, allowing operators to join Ontario's iGaming market as private contractors but working under the aegis of the government organisation.

This collaborative approach ensures that both iGaming Ontario and the operators have an input in shaping the future of the iGaming market, rather than solely relying on advancement from within the industry. Furthermore, Ontario is subject to a broad spectrum of regulations specific to the region and overarching Canadian laws. These norms encompass standards like the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), in addition to the continuous and evolving regulations imposed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

How Will Gambling Advertising Change in Ontario?

From a gambling industry perspective, it depends on whether you are a glass-half-full or half-empty person. One thing is for certain, it will significantly impact the landscape of this industry's marketing strategies.

From a positive outlook, it could create a race to the top in Ontario. Without the appeal and influence of familiar faces, advertising campaigns must shift focus towards the intrinsic elements of their offerings, such as innovative game design, attractive winning odds, or unique customer experiences. This could lead to a more level playing field, where smaller entities can compete with large corporations that previously relied on high-profile endorsements for brand visibility. Consequently, a more competitive market may emerge, fostering creativity and innovation in advertising strategies.

Others might argue, though, that the ban could also stir up debates around free speech and the right of industries to choose their advertising strategies.

Dmitry Rogalchuk
With over 5 years of experience in iGaming, Dmitry Rogalchuk leads a content team at CasinoCanada, ensuring that every article on the CasinoCanada website is informative and engaging for our readers.
Head of Content
The University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia & McGill University degrees, strategic marketing & content leadership expertise, sales strategies development
Expert in:
  • Content Management
  • Latest News in iGaming
  • Gambling Industry Knowledge
Last updated on: 19.03.2024

Do you need help navigating the world of online casinos in Canada and looking for a reliable source?

Look no further than CasinoCanada.com, as our team of experts has meticulously evaluated and handpicked the top options available to you, such as fast payout casinos, best payout casinos, new casinos, as well as the latest casino bonuses and free spins.

Related articles

Please turn your device for the best gameplay
By using this website, you agree with our use of cookies to improve its performance and enhance your user experience. More info on our cookies policy page.