Canadian Football League Argue against Banning Gambling Ads

Canada’s parliament is evaluating a bill that could limit or even ban gambling advertisements, prompting Randy Ambrosie, commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL), to write to the parliament to oppose the bill.

CFL commissioner opposes bill restricting gambling advertising.

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Writing to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, Ambrosie argued that there is no need for a national framework to regulate sports betting. Rather, he highlighted the CFL’s openness to learning and evolving, acknowledging they don’t claim perfection on the issue.

It is extremely rare for a major sports league commissioner to publicly oppose a gambling ad ban. His letter discussed the CFL’s efforts to control gambling ad exposure and their initiatives regarding responsible gaming. Ambrosie noted the league’s regulation of sports wagering ads on channels they control, such as broadcast-visible signage on the field, to limit the frequency and prominence of sportsbook logos during CFL games.

Advertising Bans Considered Around the World

In the US, the NFL restricts gambling ads to six per game, but no American professional league has openly opposed a total ban on gambling ads. In 2023, several US leagues and broadcast partners formed the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising. Meanwhile, a bill calling for a total ban on gambling advertising was introduced in the US Congress.

Australia is also exploring a blanket ban, while Italy and Belgium have already implemented such laws. Germany and the Netherlands have partial bans in place. The aim of these bans is to shield those under 21 or otherwise vulnerable from gambling ads, but it is not yet known if a total ban is an effective way of doing this.

More Regulation News

Public Opposition to Ads in Canada

Since single-event wagering was legalized in Canada in 2021, Ontario residents have expressed their displeasure regarding the amount and nature of gambling ads. A February poll by Maru Public Opinion revealed that 59% of respondents support a total ban.

Bill S-269, which aims to limit gambling ad frequency, was introduced, and the Senate’s Transport and Communications Committee recently held hearings on it. Senator Marty Deacon, the bill’s sponsor, highlighted the overwhelming presence of betting ads during sports events, describing them as more than just an irritation due to their potential harm.

Advocates for responsible gambling support national advertising guidelines, pointing to the risk to children and vulnerable individuals. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction released a study with recommendations on gambling ad frequency and timing. Matthew Young, a co-author of the study, emphasized the broader harms of gambling, including financial, relationship, health, and psychological challenges.

Bill S-269 does not propose an outright ban on gambling ads, and it remains uncertain if the federal government has the authority to enforce such a law. Like the US, Canada handles legal gambling at the provincial level. Ontario is currently the only province with a legal competitive betting market, though Alberta and British Columbia are exploring similar markets. Ultimately, it is a balancing act and one that is likely to be continually refined.


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