Canada Moves to Regulate Sports Betting Ads, Eyes Celebrity Endorsement Ban


Percolating within the halls of Canada’s esteemed Parliament is a burgeoning piece of legislation designed to firmly dictate how sports betting operators can advertise within the nation. Pioneered by distinguished Sen. Marty Deacon, the Senate Bill 269 aims to institute a stringent national regulatory framework to rein in how sportsbook corporations disseminate their in-person and online sports gambling advertisements.

Unveiled in April, Deacon’s bill has trudged through initial readings dotted with strong support and now finds itself poised on the precipice of clearing the Senate. This step comes as a precursor to its journey to the House of Commons, which awaits awaiting its deliberation.

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A particular focus of the proposed legislation is the restriction, if not outright banning, of celebrities and athletes from crowding the advertising space. This step denotes an effort to tamp down the glitz and glamour associated with the industry. In addition, the bill seeks to cap the number of advertisements decorating a sporting event and eradicate sports betting ads during television coverage of live events.

Since its inception in Ontario in 2022, legal single-game sports gambling has swiftly permeated through most Canadian provinces. Standing sentinel over this industry, are provincial lotteries and the various alcohol and gaming commissions that course through the veins of each region.

Despite the flourishing gambling scene, hushed conversations of the harmful impacts spurred by copious sports betting advertisements resonate in parliament. Many lawmakers nurturing these concerns champion the regulatory changes as a benevolent act serving the public good.

Sen. Percy Downe vividly portrayed the issue, stating that while most might unjustly dismiss these ads as mere nuisances, for a certain subsection of society, they provide an unwelcome gateway to addiction. Downe proceeded to outline his unease about the susceptibility of young individuals towards these marketing strategies – particularly those featuring celebrated athletes and celebrities.

Downe’s sentiment echoed research conducted by The Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction. The organization asserts that the robust usage of “masculine” language in sports betting ads implicitly persuades fans that a wager on the game elevates their fandom. They argue that by curbing this marketing strategy, they can alleviate the growth of gambling addiction.

This regulatory scrutiny of sports betting advertisements isn’t isolated to Canada. Similar legislative undertakings have controversially made themselves known south of the border, as numerous US states strive to circumscribe the advertising liberty of sports betting companies.

A specific piece of legislation introduced to Congress by US Rep. Paul Tonko, known as SAFE Bet Act, mirrors Canada’s bill. The proposed law seeks to bar sports gambling ads from appearing during live events and prevent suggestive vernacular such as “bonus,” “boost,” and “no sweat” in advertisements. The Act also stipulates the exclusion of credit cards for funding online sportsbooks and curtails customer deposits to a maximum of five over 24 hours. As is the case with the north, Parliament awaits further deliberations in the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.