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Ontario GC Bans Celebs and Athletes from Gambling Ads

If any Ontario sports betting operators are hoping to snare Jamie Foxx as a spokesman for their brands, they’ve got until February 28, 2024 to seal the deal and air the ads. That’s because the The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has banned the use of celebrity endorsements of regulated sportsbook beginning February 2024. It’s an ambitious move aimed at protecting Canadian youth from the dangers from the dangers of problem gambling, but it’s also a move that’s unlikely to catch on in other North American gaming markets.

The celebrity endorsement ban, which is really just an amendment to the existing gaming standards, has been in the works since April when the AGCO held a series of hearings on the subject. Among those testifying were mental health professionals and other experts on gambling issues and addiction. AGCO commissioners were swayed by the testimony and the ban was put into place.

Under the terms of the ban, athletes and retired athletes are specifically barred from promoting sportsbooks. The ban is not, however, limited to athletes and covers any endorser or symbols that may appeal to minors.

AGCO registrar and CEO Tom Mungahm summed up the commission’s view in a statement reported on by the CBC saying, “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.”

Regulated sports betting has been legal in Canada since August 2021 with Ontario being the first province to launch it in April of 2022.