With playoff games attracting larger audiences to gambling ads than  ever before, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario is recommending the  prohibition of all advertising for online gambling as evidence shows the detrimental impact it has  on vulnerable individuals and their families.

In a submission to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), CMHA proposes further constraints to the Registrar’s Standards restricting celebrity and athlete participation in  promoting gambling to youth, namely: 

  • Limit iGaming advertising to hours when the likelihood of exposure to children is minimal • Require prominent display of responsible gambling messages in iGaming promotional  material and other advertising media  
  • Ensure that the harms of problem gambling, including its implicitly addictive nature, are  prominently featured in all marketing and communications 

CMHA Ontario also points out that the risk of gambling-related harms extends beyond young  people. More than 300,000 Canadians are reported to be at risk of gambling-related harms, and  research shows that advertising and promotion of iGaming increase the overall consumption of  gambling among those who gamble. Those at increased risk of harm from gambling include  older adults, people living on a low-income, people faced with mental health issues, and those  with substance use dependencies. 

“We appreciate the AGCO acknowledging the emerging risks of promoting gambling to  underage and vulnerable people and their call for consultations on this issue,” says Camille  Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “Many of our branches offer problem gambling supports and are observing an increase in clients bringing forward the issue of celebrity endorsements for  iGaming. Gambling-related harms such as financial loss, mental health issues, substance use,  and suicide ideation, can have devastating and long-lasting impacts on the individual and their  family.” 

In addition to restrictions on online gambling ads, CMHA Ontario advises that the commission  consider taking a public health approach to regulating iGaming. iGaming provides access to  multiple platforms for gambling, which reduces the effectiveness of limit setting features, and  encourages continuous gambling. 

“It is important that online gambling is not depicted as a risk-free recreational activity,” says Quenneville. “Individuals who engage in the activity should be provided with local services and resources to support those at-risk of harmful gambling.” 

A copy of the submission to the AGCO can be found on the CMHA Ontario website.

Fast Facts:
• Surveys show that students self-reporting betting money on online gambling increased from four per cent in 2019 to 15 per cent in 2021.
• CMHA Ontario’s 2022 poll found that 35 per cent of Ontarians who gamble increased their gambling activity since 2020.
• Gambling is strongly associated with increased tobacco use, alcohol consumption and use of other substances.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization funded by the provincial government. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health.

source: media release



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