Published: March 22, 2024

Celebrities and Athletes Banned from Online Sports Betting Ads in Ontario, Other Jurisdictions Look to Follow

Ontario has made online sports gambling ads featuring celebrities and athletes off-limits. The province has barred the use of all active or retired athletes and celebrities in internet sports betting marketing and advertising material.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced the proposed rule in early 2023. Since then, the idea gained traction in the province when Canadian Senator Martha “Marty” Deacon called for national rules to deal with the “torrent” of ads.

Deacon, who first introduced the federal sports gambling advertising legislation, supported the AGCO decision but believes the commission could have done more. The senator advocated for the province to restrict gambling advertisements on television to specific times of the day.

The new AGCO rules are getting attention as hockey-crazed Canadians focus on Stanley Cup playoffs when ads typically would feature hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, as well as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, along with current NHL stars.

The internet advertising restrictions also extend to the use of role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon characters, and symbols that are likely to appeal to minors.

Bans on Celebrity Sports Betting Ads Gaining Ground in Brazil

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved Bill 3,405/2023, which prohibits the use of celebrities in sports betting advertisements. Senator Eduardo Girao has also presented amendments that would ban anyone considered to have influence from being involved in the marketing of gambling.

Girao, who has long been against gambling in Brazil, believes Bill 3,405/2023 would protect Brazilian citizens from the risks of gambling harms, both emotional and financial.

The next steps in Brazil’s bid to prohibit the use of celebrities in ads includes other regulations to be published by the Ministry of Finance that spell out guidelines for operators.

Similar Advertising Bans Meeting Resistance Around the World

In the UK, where mobile betting became legal in 2005, the Committee of Advertising Practice has now banned betting ads that feature current and former sports stars, and social media influencers. Rules apply to broadcast media, online and in print publications, as well as billboards and posters.

In Belgium, a near-total gambling advertisement ban is in effect. The decision came amid what has been called a “tsunami of advertising.” The nationwide gambling advertising ban includes television, radio, print, and online. Germany and Italy also have strict rules on sports betting advertising, but operators in both countries are pushing for such tight restrictions to be eased in the future.

Last year in Australia, an inquiry recommended phasing out ads for online gambling over three years. The government has since rejected the approach, citing the importance of revenue from online gambling to many sports associations and leagues.

In the US, new proposed legislation to limit sports betting marketing faces a long road.

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