Are the days of Wayne Gretzky and other Canadian celebrities endorsing Ontario sports betting operators coming to a close? A proposed ban on celebrity sportsbook endorsements is on the agenda for the May 8 meeting of The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). If the proposed ban is approved, it could trigger a domino effect for endorsement bans in other regulated North American gaming markets.
Under the terms of the proposed endorsement ban, virtually all celebrity endorsements, athletic or otherwise, would be forbidden. The idea behind the ban is that celebrity endorsements may be impacting problem gamblers and vulnerable youth demographics.
And it’s not only former professional athletes like Wayne Gretzky who would be impacted by the proposed ban. According to the AGCO, the ban would also include “the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who are reasonably expected to appeal to minors.”
In a statement reported on by the Toronto City News, an AGCO representative summed up the effort saying, “The AGCO has identified advertising and marketing approaches that strongly appeal to persons who are under the legal gaming age through the use of celebrities and/or athletes,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday.
“The AGCO is therefore proposing to prohibit the use of athletes as well as celebrities that can reasonably be expected to appeal to children and youth from internet gambling advertising and marketing in Ontario.”
Regulated sports betting has only been legal in Ontario for one year, but has already been a huge success. But Ontario, like many other newly regulated markets, is still maturing and figuring out exactly where the lines should be drawn when it comes to actually marketing gaming products.