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Celebrities exit sports gaming ads in Ontario

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Gambling commercials continue to blitz digital platforms and live sports television broadcasts.

“I have been amazed at the proliferation of those commercials,” said Ed McHugh, a teacher at Nova Scotia Community College who also has a deep background in sports.

McHugh said it’s time to dial back the volume of gambling ads.

“Absolutely, it’s way too much,” said McHugh.

Effective immediately, current or retired athletes, celebrities and social media influencers can no longer promote Internet gaming in Ontario. The move is seen as a step to safeguard children and youth, who are susceptible to these gambling commercials.

“The more you are exposed to advertisement for gambling, the more likely you are to engage in gambling behaviour,” said psychologist Dr. Simon Sherry, who called the ads “predatory”. “A recent analysis of seven sports games from Ontario. It involves looking at five NHL games and two NBA games and this analysis showed that roughly one-fifth of the entire live broadcast involved gambling.”

Younger men, age 18-to-35, are most vulnerable to a sports betting trend that continues to grow at an alarming rate.

“People learn through imitation and observation,” said Sherry. “So when they see sports stars who are influential and splashy and cool, they are more prone to imitate them.”

The sports gambling industry will continue to grow at historic levels; McHugh said you can bet on it.

He sees removing celebrities from these ads is a positive step.

“I am not influenced by celebrities for any products but if you read the research, a lot of people are,” said McHugh.

American gambling ads featuring celebrities will continue to air in Canada.

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