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Sports Betting Advertising in Canada Might Be Shut Down

Canada is the latest in a string of mature gambling markets around the world to face scrutiny on gambling advertising - and there is pressure to see a ban implemented.

Advocates for the marketing prohibition argue it is the only way to reverse the tide of exposure to aggressive acquisition strategies by gambling companies.

While sports betting in Canada is hardly new, there has been a surge in advertising since the federal government legalized single-game sports betting in 2021.

"We see these ads grooming children and youth to become life-long betters and risk the addictions," said former Olympian and current professor emeritus of sport policy at the University of Toronto, Bruce Kidd.

"We see these ads grooming children and youth to become life-long betters and risk the addictions."

loudspeaker, mobile phone and ads sports items on the dark background

2020 Research Behind Campaign

While there is a collective agreeance in the sector that minors should be protected at all costs from the pitfalls of gambling, research conducted in 2020 suggests more could be done from a marketing perspective to prevent problem gambling from developing at an early age.

The study, led by Ipsos MORI - a UK-based marketing research firm - produced a damning headline. Those between the ages of 11 and 24 who were exposed to gambling marketing and advertisements would bet later in life.

It is the basis of that research that spurred Mr Kidd's Campaign to Ban Advertising for Gambling, and the industry in Canada is struggling to come up with an acceptable compromise.

Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, believes companies need to be more careful about how they go about getting players to sign up for their platform, especially because of the powerful combination of random rewards and dopamine release.

He said: "Just get the person to reach into their pocket. You know, they don't even have to go to a casino anymore. Just reach into their pocket, pull out their phone, and they can be off and gambling."

In other mature markets, such as the UK, the industry has been facing similar calls. A report released in December last year called on all sports governing bodies to cut the volume of gambling adverts in stadiums.

Upon the report's release, Culture Media and Sport, Chair, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP said: "While gambling regulation should not overly impinge on the freedom to enjoy what is a problem-free pastime for the majority, more should be done to shield both children and people who have experienced problem gambling from what often seems like a bombardment of advertising branding at football and other sporting events. The government needs to go further than the proposals in the White Paper and work with sports governing bodies on cutting the sheer volume of betting adverts people are being exposed to."

Previously, a gambling White Paper published in April 2023, was deemed a watermark in the UK's approach to gambling. In it, the government pledged a serious shake-up on affordability checks, a consultation on stake limits on slots, and an ombudsman for dispute resolution, among other commitments.

Industry Bosses Defend Sector

Paul Burns, the CEO and President of the Canadian Gaming Association argues the industry is doing its utmost to protect minors and that robust regulations are already in place.

He was recently quoted in an interview: "Everybody has been leaning in to make sure they're getting it right. No one wants to target minors, no one is intentionally targeting minors, and gambling is a part of our society. It is normalised behaviour."

Some observers would further argue that the gambling industry is heavily regulated and constantly monitored by government agencies.

Then there is the accountability argument - just like other forms of entertainment, such as video games or movies, gambling can provide a source of enjoyment for adults. Lobbyists would argue it is up to individuals to make responsible decisions about their spending and time spent gambling. The industry cannot be solely blamed for the actions of individuals who choose to ignore responsible gambling practices.

Mr. Burns believes there is more room for wrangling and that the industry is not opposed to further regulations in the future: "We want people to know where to go, that these are the sites you should go to if you're going to gamble, who you should gamble with."

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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
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Last updated on: 20.02.2024

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