Ontario’s Ban on Athletes in Gambling Ads Sparks Calls for Stronger Measures

Ontario recently made a significant announcement, revealing its decision to ban the use of athletes in advertising for online gambling, while also implementing stricter standards to curb the use of celebrities who might appeal to minors. While this move is applauded by some, there are concerns that it might not go far enough to protect those who are most vulnerable to gambling addictions. Royals Blue Brings you the whole story

Athlete Ban and Celebrity Restrictions

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) took a bold step in updating its Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming. This update includes a prohibition on the use of athletes in advertisements for online gambling. This decision comes as a response to the growing concerns about the influence these figures have on young individuals.

Ontario's Ban on Athletes in Gambling Ads

Some of the notable athletes who have appeared in ads for gambling sites include the legendary Wayne Gretzky, along with current NHL stars Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. The ban aims to keep these influential sports figures out of gambling advertisements, acknowledging their impact on impressionable minds.

Key Details:

  • AGCO updates Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming
  • Athletes like Wayne Gretzky, Connor McDavid, and Auston Matthews featured in gambling ads
  • Ban designed to limit influence of sports stars on gambling promotion

Consultations and Criticism

The decision to ban athletes from gambling ads was not made in isolation. The AGCO conducted consultations to gather insights from various stakeholders, including mental-health organizations, gambling experts, gaming operations, and the general public. These consultations shed light on the significant rise in online gambling advertisements, particularly during live sports events.

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During a playoff series game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers in 2023, it was noted that nearly eight and a half minutes of advertisements were dedicated to online sports gambling. This excessive inundation of gambling ads raised concerns among advocates, experts, and parents, prompting the need for stronger measures to protect young people.

Consultation Highlights:

  • AGCO’s consultations involved mental-health organizations, gambling experts, and the public
  • Rise of online gambling ads during live sports events drew significant criticism
  • Adverse impact of excessive gambling ads on young individuals

Impact of Sports Betting Advertising in Ontario

The expansion of the sports betting industry in Canada brought forth a wave of sports betting advertising, particularly in Ontario after it officially opened up the market for single-event bets. The convenience of online gambling and the increasing prevalence of gambling advertisements have raised concerns among advocates and experts.

The critics argue that the inundation of sports betting advertisements can normalize gambling behavior among young people and potentially lead to addiction issues. With the participation of athletes and celebrities in these ads, the impact on the impressionable minds of children and youth becomes a subject of significant worry.

Expert Insights:

Bruce Kidd, a professor emeritus of sports and public policy at the University of Toronto, has been a vocal advocate for a complete ban on sports betting ads. He draws parallels to the tobacco ban from a generation ago, emphasizing the potential harm caused by excessive advertising and the need to minimize such harm for the well-being of society.

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Advocates Push for Stronger Measures

While the AGCO’s decision to ban athletes from gambling ads is welcomed, there are calls for even stronger measures. Canadian senator Marty Deacon has been a driving force behind pushing for nationwide regulations to ban not only athletes but also celebrities in sports betting advertisements.

Senator Deacon’s proposal aims to ensure that all provinces adhere to the same advertising standards, eliminating the potential for a patchwork of rules and confusion. She believes that a comprehensive approach is necessary to protect the vulnerable population from the impact of gambling ads, especially when they involve influential figures.

National Regulations:

Senator Deacon’s proposal, if implemented, would not only set a precedent for protecting youth but would also contribute to a more consistent approach to advertising regulations across the country. Critics of gambling advertising support this initiative, as it addresses concerns about varying standards and the potential for harmful advertising practices.


Ontario’s ban on the use of athletes in gambling ads represents a significant step towards addressing the concerns surrounding the influence of these ads on vulnerable populations, especially young individuals. However, the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of this ban and the need for more comprehensive regulations underscores the complexity of the issue.

As the countdown to the implementation of the ban continues and as discussions about national regulations persist, the landscape of gambling advertising in Canada remains in flux. The goal is clear: to strike a balance between promoting responsible gambling practices and safeguarding the well-being of the population, particularly those who are most susceptible to the allure of gambling ads.

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