Sports betting advertising bill “inevitable,” says Saskatchewan senator

Ontario Senator Marty Deacon and Saskatchewan Senator Brent Cotter held a virtual panel on Wednesday about the future of sports betting in Canada, and specifically about the future of sports betting advertising. Deacon introduced Bill S-269 to Parliament last year. This bill would require the Minister of Canadian Heritage to develop national guidelines and regulations for Canadian sports betting advertisements.

Deacon described Bill S-269 as having general support in the Senate, while Cotter described the regulation as inevitable. If passed, Bill S-269 would be the first major shake-up to the Canadian sports betting landscape since sports betting was legalised in Canada in 2021.

Article Highlights:

  • Two lawmakers believe a national sports betting advertising bill is coming.
  • Saskatchewan Senator Brent Cotter says a nation-wide law is inevitable.
  • AGCO has passed a ban on celebrities in iGaming advertisements.
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Headline: Lawmakers optimistic about national sports betting advertising rules

When Canadian Parliament legalised sports betting back in August 2021, it failed to address many of the nuances of the Canadian sports betting market that many legislators now feel need dealing with.

Bill C-218, the bill that legalised sports betting in Canada, was a simple amendment to the Canadian criminal code which had banned sports betting. What the bill did not do was create a robust, legal sports betting market in Canada. It left that up to the individual provinces. Now, some lawmakers are trying to take some actions to regulate the industry federally.

Ontario Senator Marty Deacon is one of the biggest sports betting reform advocates in Parliament. Her proposed Bill S-269 would have the country adopt national standards for sports betting advertisements. These standards would be created by the Canadian heritage minister “with a view to restricting the use of such advertising, limiting the number, scope or location — or a combination of these — of the advertisements or to limiting or banning the participation of celebrities and athletes in the promotion of sports betting.”

The Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission would also play a role in crafting new Canadian sports betting advertising guidelines. Bill S-269 would direct the commission to “assess their adequacy and effectiveness in reducing the incidence of harms resulting from the proliferation of advertising for sports betting.” 

Canadian sports betting advertising bill “inevitable”

Senator Deacon and Senator Cotter held a video panel about the future of sports betting advertising. The two lawmakers believe a national sports betting advertising bill is coming.

Deacon said that her Bill S-269 has “general support” in the Senate. She also clarified that she has met with some members of the House of Commons who are hoping to soon see further developments regarding the bill and other sports betting ad rules.

Speaking about sports betting advertising rules more broadly, Saskatchewan Senator Brent Cotter says a nation-wide law is inevitable. Cotter said that he has met with several people in the Canadian sports betting industry and that he has delivered a clear message to them about their businesses. “And the message I’ve conveyed to them is this set of constraints on your line of work is coming. And it’s inevitable,” said Cotter.

While Cotter may be hopeful about future regulations, he may have to wait a while for them to come. Deacon’s Bill S-269 still has many hurdles to clear in the Senate. If it does go to the House of Commons, it will likely get caught up in the power struggle currently crippling the chamber due to the fact that no party controls a majority of the house.

If any Canadian sports betting bill is to be passed at the federal level now, a lot of comprises will need to be made. Additionally, it is unclear how big of a priority regulating sports betting is right now. Sports betting ad reformers might have more luck dealing with this issue on a provincial level. 

Ontario advertising regulation coming in February

One province who has already taken aim at sports betting advertisements is Ontario. iGaming Ontario and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) have passed a ban on celebrities in iGaming advertisements. Celebrities are defined as famous persons, athletes, influencers, and any other public figures who might unduly influence minors.

The AGCO ban comes into effect near the end of February, 2024. Both AGCO and iGaming Ontario are currently in the process of advising online casinos and sports betting sites in Ontario on how they can adhere to the province’s new rule.