Ontario faith leaders are urging the public to oppose iGaming

Posted on: January 4, 2024, 1:05 am.

Last updated on: January 4, 2024, 2:25 am.

The Ontario bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada have spoken out against legal online casino gambling in the Canadian province.

Ontario iGaming online sports betting
National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Chris Harper and other bishops in Ontario want the Canadian province to rein in its recently liberalized iGaming industry. Regulated online casino sites went live in April 2022. (Picture: Anglican Journal)

Legal iGaming, consisting of interactive slots and table games, went live in Ontario on April 4, 2022. The launch coincided with the legal launch of retail and online sports betting.

Church bishops in Ontario, including Archbishop Linda Nicholls and Archbishop Chris Harper of the National Indigenous Anglican, released a joint statement against the province’s newest gaming industry. The faith leaders are calling on the government to change its iGaming regulations to ban all relevant ads.

Government policy has recognized that tobacco should not be advertised. This also applies to other goods. “We urge you to be aware that people’s well-being can be severely affected by the gambling addiction that this business model is now bringing into living rooms and onto laptops, smartphones and tablets,” it says Declaration of the bishops reports from the Anglican Journal.

“We may have reservations about gambling itself, but we do not condemn it, since it remains a personal choice,” the bishops continued. “Rather, we are talking about a policy that would enable advertising and driving traffic and revenue toward addictive behavior among youth and vulnerable populations.”

Complete ban recommended

While Nicholls and Harper are seeking an immediate halt to iGaming advertising, the bishops hope to one day go further and get the government to abandon the expansion of gambling and withdraw the iGaming law. The bishops are calling on the public to write to their state legislature to demand “the abolition of iGaming.”

The bishops cited research that concluded an estimated 1.6% of Canadians are at moderate to high risk of gambling disorder. This corresponds to around 25,600 affected people.

iGaming Ontario, the regulator that oversees online casinos in collaboration with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), says it promotes responsible gaming and has a variety of tools and resources for players, including self-exclusion (launched in 2024). , deposit and deadlines as well as support services. Every licensed iGaming operator is required to invest in responsible gaming programs and regularly promote the importance of sensible gaming.

Responsible gambling means engaging in gambling activities without risk of harm or harm to others,” iGaming Ontario’s website states.

Additionally, iGaming Ontario requires its licensees to share anonymized player data “to advance problem gambling and responsible gambling research.”

Advertising pushback

iGaming Ontario says online gaming advertising can protect consumers by providing information about available responsible gaming protections. The ads can also help players identify legal, regulated websites that have such responsible gaming safeguards in place.

Ontario lawmakers have already heeded certain calls to limit gambling advertising. Last August, the AGCO agreed to ban all gambling advertising featuring celebrities and sports stars to “help protect children and young people who may be particularly vulnerable to such advertising content.”

Ontarians continue to embrace legal iGaming as betting and revenue continue to rise. In the quarter ended Sept. 30, Ontario’s legal casino platforms took more than C$14.2 billion ($10.63 billion) in bets and won about $404.3 million.

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