AGCO bans athletes in iGaming advertising to protect children

The updated Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming will restrict the kind of public figures that can be used in gambling-related advertising.

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has banned the use of athletes and influential celebrities from being used in marketing material for iGaming products, effective from 28 February 2024.

With the updated Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, operators will no longer be able to use either active or retired athletes in advertising, unless they are directly promoting responsible gambling.

This will also extend to any celebrities, social media influencers, cartoons or symbols that may appeal to those under the legal gambling age.

This has been done with the intention of reducing the risk of harm coming to minors, who may find the use of such figures in gambling-related adverts enticing.

In April 2023, AGCO identified this risk and consulted a range of organisations about the potential ban, including stakeholders, health organisations, responsible gambling experts, operators, advertising groups and the public.

Tom Mungham, AGCO Registrar and CEO, said: "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."

In addition to banning influential figures, operators will also have to adhere to a number of other requirements, as outlined in the 2.03 section of the AGCO Standards for Internet Gaming.

These include restricting any use of language that may appeal to minors, or the location of certain advertising, for example outside of schools or other youth-focused areas.

It’s expected that AGCO will deliver further brief guidance in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, AGCO issued CA$100,000 (US$74,387) in penalties to Apollo Entertainment for failing to meet Ontario’s responsible gambling requirements.

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