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  • Writer's pictureFroese Law

The AGCO and the Gaming Industry

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) is Ontario’s agency that governs online gaming in the province, which was only recently legalized in April 2022. The AGCO also regulates alcohol, horse racing and the cannabis industries. Its mandate is to protect the public’s interest, governing by its guiding light to uphold honesty and integrity. Functionally, the AGCO administers licenses, permits and provides approvals and/or enforces against non-compliance with respect to the sale and/or provision of products and services in these highly regulated industries. Specific to the gaming industry, the AGCO regulates the following types of gaming activities:

  • OLG lotteries

  • Casino gaming

  • Charitable gaming

  • Internet gaming

  • Social gaming

The AGCO’s responsibilities include:

  • monitoring gaming suppliers, retailers and employees

  • establishing industry standards and requirements

  • testing gaming equipment and procedures

  • conducting inspection and investigation activities

The AGCO’s proposed laws re: Celebrity Endorsements

As part of its industry governance mandate, the AGCO issues advertising standards that provide restrictions as to how and to whom the gaming industry can be advertised. In April 2023, one year after the launch of Ontario’s internet gaming industry, the AGCO has proposed amendments to its advertising standards, as it relates to celebrity and athlete endorsements. The AGCO’s concerns are as follows:

“As part of its mandate, the AGCO monitors and identifies emerging risks and, where necessary, the Registrar updates the Registrar’s Standards to mitigate them. The AGCO has identified advertising and marketing approaches that strongly appeal to persons who are under the legal gaming age through the use of celebrities and/or athletes. Concern regarding the potential harmful impact on the most vulnerable population, underage persons, remains high.”

As such, the AGCO is proposing that the use of celebrity and athlete endorsements for internet gambling advertising and marketing in Ontario be banned. As stated by the AGCO:

“the proposed amended standard will:

1. Create an obligation for operators and suppliers to cease any advertising and marketing activities that use athletes, whether active or retired, in gaming marketing and advertising; and,

2. Prohibit the use of cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who are reasonably expected to appeal to minors. This proposed amendment differs from the current standard, which is applicable to persons that “primarily appeal” to minors. Advertising remains a permitted activity, provided other Standards are met.”

The AGCO is allowing stakeholders to provide their input on the proposed restrictions until May 8, 2023.

If you would like to provide your input, reach out to us at Froese Law.

Entertainment Lawyer Toronto

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