Should gambling ads in sports broadcasts be reduced?
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Should gambling ads in sports broadcasts be reduced?

The Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), in collaboration with the University of Bristol, has recently conducted a study on the quantity of sportsbook branding featured in Canadian sports broadcasts.  

This newly released research has yielded some very interesting results: 

  • Around 20% of a single sports broadcast features gambling ads¬†

The sheer number of sportsbook advertisements has spurred many to express their dismay with what they have described as a bombardment of ads that they must withstand whilst attempting to watch a match. 

Many have called for the integration of stricter regulatory practices tied with the distribution of gambling ads. In this regard, the ‚Äėnormalization of gambling‚Äô has become, for many, a deep cause for concern.¬†

In lieu of this, the Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has recently issued a statement in which they expressed their intention to update the advertising regulations in Ontario, and thus ban the use of famous athletes and celebrities in gambling advertisements. 

Despite this, however, many view this regulation to be too lenient, with the true extent of gambling ads remaining much the same. 

The research carried out by the CBC 

In order to carry out this research, the CBC worked in collaboration with Dr. Raffaello Rossi and Dr. Jamie Wheaton from the University of Bristol.  

The study placed its focus on 5 NHL games and 2 NBA games that were broadcast on air between October 25th and October 29th, 2023.  

In addition to the sports broadcasts themselves, the study took into consideration the social media platforms of 10 gaming operators. These included the following entities: 

  • Bet99 ¬†

  • Bet365¬†

  • BetMGM¬†

  • BetVictor¬†

  • FanDuel¬†

  • PointsBet¬†

  • Rivalry¬†

  • Sports Interaction¬†

  • theScore¬†

Throughout this research, and across these two modes, a total of 4,119 sportsbook branding messages were recorded.  

It must be said, however, that the majority of these messages were comprised of on-court advertising. This type of advertising includes the appearance of on-court logos and included nearly 94% of all recorded sportsbook branding messages. 

The conducted research took into account the following definitions of sportsbook branding messages: 

  • Screen appearances of on-court logos¬†

  • On-air references to betting¬†

  • Posts made from the operator‚Äôs social media accounts¬†

In the process of tallying the appearance of on-court logos on screen, the researchers involved in this study took into consideration each individual shot of each logo throughout the entire duration of a game match. 

With regards to this, Dr. Wheaton remarked on the following: 

‚ÄúThe total duration of gambling messages being shown on TV averaged 39.8 minutes per match broadcast, including studio discussions. In other words, every hour of coverage included an average of 13 minutes that contained a gambling message.‚Ä̬† ¬†

Amongst these 4,119 sportsbook branding messages, only 2.6% were comprised of responsible gambling or age-gating messages. 

Another large portion of these messages was taken up by social media engagement posts made by operators. The researchers who took part in this study expressed their concern regarding these posts, and questioned whether they were in direct violation of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards regulations. 

This is because these posts are not clearly labeled as advertisements, even though they clearly are. With regards to this, Dr. Rossi stated the following: 

‚ÄúOur study highlights a serious issue with social media gambling marketing, notably content marketing. There is an urgent need to strengthen regulations to protect consumers ‚Äď in particular children, who are especially vulnerable to such sneaky advertising techniques.‚Ä̬† ¬†

Dr. Wheaton (left) and Dr. Rossi (right)

The AGCO will soon share its verdict on the updated advertising regulations in Ontario 

The Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has recently released a statement pertaining to the prohibition of the inclusion of pro athletes and celebrities in gambling advertisements and marketing materials in the province of Ontario.  

This ban and its associated restrictions will come into effect on February 28th, 2024. 

The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming have been updated by the AGCO with the aim of protecting any minors from being influenced by celebrities and pro athletes who, it would be expected, would likely appeal to them. 

These standards have also been strengthened in an effort to restrict the appearance of these influential figures in gambling marketing and advertising in Ontario. 

In a statement, Tom Mungham, the former registrar and CEO of the AGCO, made the following remarks: 

‚ÄúFollowing the first year of Ontario‚Äôs open, regulated iGaming market, the AGCO identified advertising and marketing approaches that use athletes, as well as celebrities with an appeal to minors, as a potential harm to those under the legal gaming age and is taking this step to reduce the risk.‚Ä̬†

In addition to this, Mungham remarked on the following: 

‚ÄúChildren and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to. We‚Äôre therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario‚Äôs youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario.‚Ä̬†

What this advertising ban entails 

The following is a list of what this new ban entails: 

  • Online gaming operators in Ontario are not allowed to place any athletes, whether they are active or retired, in advertisements or marketing materials.¬†

  • The exception to this rule is for the inclusion of athletes who are participating in ads about the advocacy for responsible gaming practices.¬†

  • In addition to this, this new ban pertains to the inclusion of other influential figures in internet gambling marketing campaigns. These include figures such as social media influencers, cartoon figures, entertainers, role models, and any symbols that are likely to appeal to minors.¬†¬†

  • These new regulations will not have any effect on the location, volume, and style of gambling ads in Ontario.¬†

  • The regulations pertaining to the introduction of this new ban are planned to come into force starting from February 28th, 2024.¬†

Who is the Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario (AGCO)? 

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is a provincial regulating agency that is responsible for a number of sectors within the province of Ontario. 

This corporation falls under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019. 

The sectors that are under the jurisdiction of the AGCO include the following: 

  • Lottery and Gambling¬†

  • Cannabis retail stores¬†

  • Alcohol¬†

  • Horse Racing¬†

In accordance with this, the AGCO administers the following: 

  • The Liquor License and Control Act, 2019¬†

  • The Gaming Control Act, 1992¬†

  • The Horse Racing License Act, 2015¬†

  • The Cannabis License Act, 2018¬†

  • The charity lottery licensing Order-in-Council 1413/08¬†

With the public’s interest as their primary focus, this provincial regulatory agency reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG). 

About the authorMelanie Cazenave
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A specialist in online casinos, she also loves proofreading. With her, it's impossible for mistakes to slip through the cracks. A true lover of letters, she binds articles and retouches them to make them as perfect as possible.

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