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AGCO’s Latest Move: Ontario iGaming Advertising Regulations Now Exclude Athletes
After months of speculation, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has officially implemented a comprehensive ban on the use of athletes in iGaming advertising and marketing. This significant decision comes as a response to growing concerns about the impact of such advertising on vulnerable members of society, including children.
New Regulations Aim to Safeguard Vulnerable Audiences
These new regulations not only prohibit the use of athletes but also impose restrictions on the involvement of celebrities who are deemed likely to appeal to minors. The rules went into effect on February 28, 2024, marking a substantial shift from the previous standard that merely discouraged content with a “primary appeal to minors.”
AGCO’s Deliberative Process
The AGCO’s decision followed months of careful deliberation and consultation with various stakeholders, including mental health and public health organizations, responsible gambling experts, gaming operators, broadcast and marketing groups, and the public. Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO of AGCO, emphasized the importance of protecting Ontario’s youth:
“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.”
Revised AGCO Standards for Internet Gaming
The updated AGCO Standards for Internet Gaming include several key changes, with a focus on preventing the targeting of high-risk, underage, or self-excluded individuals in lottery schemes. Notable amendments include:
- Prohibition of advertising and marketing materials that use themes or language primarily intended to appeal to minors.
- Restrictions on advertising in proximity to schools or youth-oriented locations.
- Absence of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities, or entertainers that are expected to appeal to minors.
- Exclusively permitting the use of active or retired athletes in advertising and marketing to advocate for responsible gambling practices.
- Prohibition of the use of individuals who are, or appear to be, minors to promote gaming.
- Avoidance of media and venues directed primarily to minors.
- Measures to prevent the exploitation of susceptibilities or vulnerabilities in potential high-risk players.
- Efforts to limit marketing communications to known high-risk players.
These changes reflect AGCO’s commitment to ensuring a responsible and safe gaming environment in Ontario, especially for the benefit of its young population.