Ontario Online Gambling Commission Bans Celebrity Endorsements

The new law to prohibit professional athletes and celebrities from appearing in Ontario online casino and sports betting advertisements beginning 28 February 2024. How will it impact iGaming marketing in Ontario and across Canada?

Written by Amanda Evans 9 minute read
ontario gambling commission bans celebrity and athlete endorsements

In a bid to tackle the growing concerns surrounding the influence of athletes and celebrities in promoting gambling, Ontario has implemented stringent regulations prohibiting their participation in such advertisements. This move, which came into effect on 28 February 2024, marks a significant shift in Ontario's approach to responsible gambling and will help to mitigate potential harm that is associated with excessive gambling behaviours.

Ban on Celebrity Endorsements: A Step Towards Responsible Gambling

The decision to ban athletes and celebrities from appearing in gambling advertisements in Ontario showcases the government's commitment to promote responsible gambling practices within the province. By eliminating the involvement of high-profile individuals, policymakers are aiming to minimize gambling activities, especially among vulnerable populations, such as problem and youth gamblers.

The influence of athletes and celebrities in shaping consumer behaviour is undeniable, with their endorsements usually carrying significant weight to sway public opinion. However, in the realm of gambling, the stakes are much higher, as the allure of celebrity endorsements can potentially glamorize the activity that ultimately poses inherent risks.

With the implementation of this ban, Ontario wants to disrupt the association between celebrity culture and gambling, thereby reducing the likelihood of individuals engaging in impulsive or excessive betting behaviours. In addition, it sends a clear message that the promotion of gambling should prioritise consumer protection as opposed to profit margins.

Impact on the Gambling Marketing Practices in Canada

The ban on celebrity endorsements in gambling advertisements has sparked discussions within the industry regarding the effectiveness of alternative marketing strategies. With traditional avenues restricted, operators and affiliates are compelled to explore innovative approaches to reach their target audience while adhering to regulatory guidelines.

One such strategy will involve leveraging social media influencers and digital platforms to broadcast promotional content in a manner that will comply with the new regulations. With the power of online marketing, operators can maintain their visibility in the marketplace without having to resort to celebrity endorsements.

However, the transition away from celebrity-driven advertising poses challenges for some operators who have relied heavily on this marketing tactic to attract customers. In light of the ban, they must reevaluate their branding strategies and identify alternative means of differentiation to remain competitive in the evolving landscape of the gambling industry.

Furthermore, the ban on athlete endorsements in gambling ads raises questions about the intersection of sports and betting, particularly in a sports-centric culture like Ontario. While athletes have long been associated with endorsements across various industries, their involvement in gambling promotions has been scrutinized due to its potential influence on fans, especially younger audiences.

Ultimately, the ban on celebrity and athlete endorsements in gambling advertisements represents a decisive step toward promoting responsible gambling online and safeguarding vulnerable individuals from the harms associated with excessive betting. As Ontario takes proactive measures to regulate the gambling industry, other jurisdictions may look to follow suit, signalling a broader shift towards prioritizing consumer protection in the realm of gambling advertising.

ontario open gambling market vs provincial monopolies

Ontario's Open Online Gambling Market vs Provincial Monopolies

There is no denying that Ontario is the current iGaming king in Canada. It's been well established that Canadian players are wagering significant amounts via grey-market online gambling sites that are considered illegal. In fact, about half of the 47 legal operators in Ontario are currently taking bets from Canadians situated in other provinces even though they are not legal outside of Ontario due to provincial law. Canadian players outside of Ontario are also placing bets at international brands, such as FanDuel, BetRivers and Jackpot City Casino. This should undoubtedly send a clear message to other provincial governments across the country. Below, we'll take a look at all Canadian provinces to see who is under provincial monopoly, internationally regulated, and unregulated at the moment.

Province Regulated/Monopoly/Unregulated Alberta Provincial Monopoly (PlayAberta) British Columbia Provincial Monopoly (PlayNow) Manitboa Provincial Monopoly (PlayNow) New Brunswick Not Permitted (ALC) Newfoundland and Labrador Not Permitted (ALC) Northwest Territories Unregulated Nova Scotia Not Permitted (ALC) Ontario Internationally Regulated (AGCO) Prince Edward Island Not Permitted (ALC) Quebec Provincial Monopoly (eSpaceJeux) Saskatchewan Provincial Monopoly (PlayNow) Yukon Territory Unregulated

Failing to regulate and legalize online gambling beyond the provincial lottery option doesn't stop Canadian players from betting illegally. It also means that other provinces are not receiving any benefits from the activity and players receive zero protection when gambling with illegal operators. Ontario has also discredited the theory that legalizing private operators will hurt provincial gambling outfits that are returning 100% of profits back to their residents.

Ontario has proved that a government-operated gambling site can flourish in a regulated online gambling environment. This means that privately operated online casinos and the government-operated sites can coexist and grow in a shared iGaming space. The bottom line is that British Columbia, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces can easily be making three times more revenue per capita as shown by Ontario's revenue figures since opening the market in April 2022.

Ads and Companies Impacted by the Ban

According to a Canadian senator, the wide range of advertisements encouraging players to gamble and wager on sporting events at the best online casinos in Ontario is annoying and extremely dangerous. Since 2021, sports betting has been legal in Canada. However, until 24 February 2024, there weren't any advertising rules. Marty Deacon, who represents Ontario's Waterloo region, has coached several athletes and has been associated with Team Canada at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and Pan Am since 1994.

Deacon argues that sports betting advertisements, usually featuring celebrities and athletes, have become incredibly attractive, addictive, and sensational, appeal to young and vulnerable people across the country. With Ontario's new ban on ads, there are multiple advertisements and companies that have been impacted by the restriction. Below, we'll take a closer look at some of the biggest sports stars and brands that have been affected by the new rules that came into effect on 24 February 2024.

Wayne Gretzky and BetMGM

Wayne Gretzky signed a multi-year deal with BetMGM to become the brand ambassador for the digital gaming and sports betting outfit. The hockey legend joined forces with BetMGM to strengthen the online sportsbook's marketing in North America. In the latest advertisement, you can see Connor McDavid, another brand ambassador for BetMGM, going through shooting practice while Wayne Gretzky is closely monitoring his bet through the BetMGM mobile app. He keeps interrupting McDavid's practice session by screaming at his mobile phone for his team to score.

David Hasselhoff and Wheelz

Since 2021, David Hasselhoff has been part of Wheelz Casino. In the latest collaboration, Hasselhoff can be seen driving through Las Vegas along with this beloved dog, signing the memorable single Wheels Spinning, while DJ Wheelz is spinning the turntables in a charismatic music video. Slot machine reels and roulette wheels are spinning throughout the advertisement as the Hoff shares his passion for the game during his relaxing drive through the glamorous and glitzy streets of Las Vegas.

Auston Matthews and Bet99

Auston Matthews is the first active player from the NHL to sign a partnership deal with Bet99. In the first advertisement since the partnership deal, Auston Matthews can be seen taping his hockey stick while explaining that he grew up in the desert before making his mark in the National Hockey League. He urges the audience to defy the odds, make your own path, and bet on yourself where every game start at the online sportsbook. You can also see him wear a jersey advertising Bet99 throughout the 30 second video.

Mats Sundin and LeoVegas

Mats Sundin, the ice hockey legend from Sweden, has been LeoVegas Casino's brand ambassador since 2019. In the latest LeoVegas YouTube video, Mats Sundin can be seen inviting players to play ice hockey with him. Registered players at LeoVegas Casino will get the opportunity to claim a two-night stay in Toronto where they can hit the ice with the ice hockey legend. There is also the chance to have lunch with Mats Sundin and other ice hockey alumni along with an invitation to an exclusive event held at a real sports bar.

Kevin Hart and DraftKings

DraftKings unveiled its latest advertisement, just in time for the start of the NFL season, featuring comedian Kevin Hart and former NFL legend Ryan Fitzpatrick. During the ad, Kevin Hart can be seen at the bar praising the DraftKings mobile app for spoiling him with big payouts. He asks Ryan Fitzpatrick to break it down for the audience where we see Fitzpatrick on the field explaining how to place a bet and instantly receive the bonus funds in your account, like magic. He then transforms into a pimp and calls in Fitzmagic. But Kevin returns with a comment calling it too much magic.

Ontario Online Casinos Not Affected by the Ban

With the new regulations that came into effect on 24 February 2024, banning all gambling advertisements featuring athletes and celebrities in Ontario, it's the perfect time to enjoy a reliable and safe online gambling experience without any interruptions or influences in sight. If you are someone looking for an ad-free gaming experience, we at Top 10 Casinos Canada highly recommend the following online casinos in 2024.

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  • Yukon Gold

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Our Pledge at Top 10 Casinos Canada

Our core principles are to help our readers make informed and educated decisions when it comes to online gambling. We provide easy-to-read information pertaining to the latest news and developments in the industry and evaluate casino bonuses, payment methods, software providers, game selections, and guides on how to play responsibly. We are committed to only recommend legal and reputable brands for Canadian players and strive to ensure all our visitors enjoy a memorable experience in a safe and secure environment.

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 Amanda Evans
Written by
Amanda Evans Editorial Director

With more than 15 years of experience in the field, Amanda is in charge of organising and editing all featured content. She also manages a group of writers to guarantee that the information our Canadian readers receive about the iGaming sector is reliable. For further information, see Amanda's author profile.

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