Does Connor McDavid Responsible Gambling Ad Circumvent AGCO Ban?

Written By Dave Briggs on March 8, 2024
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers shown during a recent game. McDavid recently appeared in a new responsible gambling ad produced by BetMGM.

When Ontario’s gambling regulator moved to ban athletes and other celebrities from appearing in ads for online operators, the bet among many in the industry was that would be the end of the likes of Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky appearing in ads in Canada.

Not so, as it turns out.

It’s all part of PlayCanada’s roundup of some of the biggest online gambling stories in Canada for the week of March 4 – 8, 2024:

The Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario’s new rules — which went into effect on Feb. 28 — do allow operators to use athletes and celebrities if those famous folks are promoting responsible gambling in Canada. That explains the new BetMGM spot starring McDavid that dropped Friday.

In a press release, BetMGM said, “the spot will air on television outlets in the US and Canada, as well as on various digital platforms, highlighting the comprehensive range of responsible gaming resources available to users of the BetMGM app.”

Kudos to BetMGM, but isn’t this an end-around?

First, kudos to BetMGM for ponying up what one assumes isn’t chump change for McDavid’s services for a strong responsible gambling message.

Yet, therein lies the root of many prognostications. The theory was no operator would pay a celebrity to advocate for responsible gambling. I guess those people were very wrong about that.

It’s a bold move by BetMGM. But, there’s no doubt the campaign does provide kind of an end-around the AGCO’s desire to end the use of celebrities ostensibly to protect minors.

Isn’t McDavid still, in effect, promoting BetMGM here?

The AGCO also famously banned operators from the start from advertising the bonuses they offer.

That and this ban on celebrities in ads are two major examples that the AGCO is extremely well-intentioned, but its execution is so-so and the end result is less than perfect.

Though, points for the effort.

BetRivers bullish on Ontario

Ontario is home to one of the most competitive online gambling sectors in the world. There are more than 50 live operators offering more than 70 different gambling site.

Still, Rush Street Interactive, the parent company of BetRivers Ontario, is bullish on the province.

During its fourth quarter earnings call this week, RSI CEO Richard Schwartz said:

Another scam using a fake ad for a nonexistent online casino – this time in BC

Another week, another online casino scam. This time, residents of British Columbia are being targeted with fake social media ads for non-existent online casinos purportedly connected to retail casinos in the province.

The ads found on Facebook and Instagram are phishing for people to provide their banking information to sign up for fake online casinos.

PlayCanada has previously reported that consumers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario have been targeted with similar fake-ad scams.

How can consumers stay safe? First, it’s important to know that in the case of all provinces except Ontario, the only safe, legal online casino option is the one operated by the provincial lottery corporation. They are as follows:

  • British Columbia gambling – (operated by the BC Lottery Corporation)
  • Alberta gambling – (operated by Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis)
  • Saskatchewan gambling – (operated by the BC Lottery Corporation)
  • Manitoba gambling – (operated by the BC Lottery Corporation)
  • Quebec gambling – Espacejeux (operated by Loto-Québec)
  • Nova Scotia gambling – (operated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation)
  • New Brunswick gambling – (operated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation)
  • Newfoundland gambling – (operated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation)
  • Prince Edward Island gambling – no legal online casinos

In terms of Ontario, spotting a scam is a little trickier. Ontario is the only province that has legal online casinos beyond the one run by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

But PlayCanada previously published a primer on how to spot an illegal online casino and prevent yourself from being scammed.

Photo by Alex Gallardo / AP Photo
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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