QUEEN'S PARK—NDP MPP France Gélinas was joined by MPPs Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), Tom Rakocevic (Humber River—Black Creek), Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain) and Toronto resident Adam Pettle to discuss the introduction of a bill to ban iGaming advertising.
"Health professionals are sounding the alarm about problem gambling, and most are pointing to the explosion of iGaming advertising and its availability, "stated Gélinas. "It is better to prevent problem gambling than to try to treat it. It's harmful that advertising of such an addictive product takes up 15% of your average sports broadcast."
"There is a significant gap in provincial regulation for the current barrage of iGaming advertising we are seeing on TV, at bus shelters, on buses, subways and online around the province—it's putting people with gambling addictions at risk. It actively sensationalizes online gambling, leading to an increase in people becoming addicted, including Ontario's youth," said Gretzky. "We know the protections in place with traditional casino gambling make a difference for those with a gambling addiction. The onslaught of advertising can potentially force people well beyond their means, pushing them into serious financial trouble. We can't allow this industry to take advantage of that reality"
MPP Monique Taylor, Critic for Children, Community, and Social Services, noted the harmful effects gambling advertising can have on children. "There is mounting scientific evidence about the harmful impacts these advertisements can have on children," Taylor said. "One study from the University of Bristol noted gambling content marketing is 3.9 times more appealing to children and young persons than adults. They also found Esports gambling advertising was substantially more appealing to children and young people than to adults. The evidence is clear here; we must protect our children and young people."
"As technology adapts, so must we. With the advent of online gambling, the Ford government has had years to get ready and put proper protections in place but hasn't," stated MPP Rakocevic. "Banning online betting advertising is one important step in the right direction to help prevent the harms associated with gambling. Free-to-play websites and ads with celebrities only serve to entice people into engaging in risky behaviours that could lead to pretty serious consequences. "
Toronto resident Adam Pettle, a gambling addict in recovery, spoke about how difficult the new advertisements are to persons with a history of gambling addiction. "I learned the precise spot to cross Campbell Avenue so that I don't have to come face-to-face with the large banner ad for the MGM Casino promising to bring Las Vegas to Toronto, which hangs on the side of the bodega at the end of our street. I've also learned to mute the TV while backing out of the room as soon as the third out is recorded during Blue Jays telecasts to ensure that I miss the first commercial; there's an even-money proposition that it will be for a betting website."
"The Auditor General reported I-Gaming revenue grew from $139 M in 2020 to $511 M in June of 2022 when the Ford government opened the door to the for-profit companies. It now sits at 35.5 billion for 2022. Her report tells us that OLG's growth rate went down to 8% while private for-profit operators grew by 65% in 3 months," Gélinas shared. "The province collects 45% of OLG internet gaming revenue compared to only 5.7% of the gaming revenue from private iGaming platforms. Letting these services promote their services is a lose-lose proposition for Ontarians."