Numerous governments have opened up online single-event sports betting in recent years and those websites are betting their ad campaigns will draw in more customers, which has some addictions experts concerned.

More online sports betting ads are filling up the commercial breaks for pro sports games, like during game 5 of the NBA playoff series between the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Those message makers include the province’s own sports betting website.

“We certainly purchase advertising that aligns with the demographic for sports betting, so we’ll certainly be more prevalent on major sporting events,” said Steve Lautischer, vice president for gaming with Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Corporation (AGLC).

Online gambling has been around in Alberta since 2020, but Lautischer says the AGLC was able to launch PlayAlberta.ca in August, 2021 shortly after the federal government made single-event sports wagers legal last summer.

The new framework allows the provinces to regulate gaming and cash in the billions being lost to the black and gray betting markets, and the AGLC is also placing ads in hopes of increasing traffic to its betting sites.

“It’s almost incumbent upon us to make sure that Albertans know that regulated online gambling choice is available to them with the right tool sets. There’s many ads out there that direct people to illegal gambling sites, and those illegal gambling sites have no responsibility or at least they don’t take the responsibility to deliver a safe and comfortable experience for Albertans,” added Lautischer.

INCREASING EXPOSURE

However some addictions counselors are concerned that all those ads will increase exposure for those at risk of addictive behaviours, because it makes it easily accessible.

“Gambling actually has the highest suicide rate of any form of addiction, because essentially, money is the drug,” said Allen Kharlip, addictions counselor with Last Door recovery society.

Online gambling has been around in Alberta since 2020, but Lautischer says the AGLC was able to launch PlayAlberta.ca in August, 2021 shortly after the federal government made single event sports wagers legal last summer.

Celebrity brand ambassadors appear frequently in sports-betting ads during games, including Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, Wayne Gretzky and “Breaking Bad” actor Aaron Paul.

Kharlip says celebrity spokespeople make online sports betting more appealing, and that’s troubling.

“(I would rather) maybe having less of these iconic figures that kids really, really look up to,” Kharlip said.

REMINDING CONSUMERS TO KEEP IT REAL

The AGLS says it provides resources and tools to encourage responsible gambling through its game sense program, but also tries to advertise with warnings “Certainly all of our advertisements for PlayAlberta.ca remind consumers to keep it real, to keep a good sense of what they ‘re participating (in),” said Lautischer.

The new framework allows the provinces to regulate gaming and cash in the billions being lost to the black and gray betting markets, and the AGLC is also placing ads in hopes of increasing traffic to its betting sites.

Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive which operates Betrivers.ca sent CTV News a statement on Tuesday which reads:

“In March 2022, Rush Street Interactive became the first US-based online casino and sports betting company to receive RG Check iGaming Accreditation from the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), which is regarded as the worlds most comprehensive and rigorous responsible gaming accreditation program.

“The RG Check accreditation demonstrates that we prioritize and embed responsible gambling into our operations. Having received this accreditation two years ahead of other new operators in the Ontario market, Rush Street Interactive was recently commended by RG Check for its commitment to transparency, player safeguards , duty of care and continuous improvement, as well as contributes to creating a culture of responsible gambling and sustainable play.”

Earlier this month Ontario also opened up sports betting, expanding the market and advertising exposure for these types of ads, which means sports fans can likely count on more of these ads during the next game.

Earlier this month Ontario also opened up sports betting, expanding the market and advertising exposure for these types of ads, which means sports fans can likely count on more of these ads during the next game.

The USA has been allowing single event betting online since 2018.


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