Top Poker Pros Could Be Included in Ontario’s iGaming Celebrity Ban

Last Updated on October 26, 2023 Author:Adrian Sterne

Daniel Negreanu promoting GGPoker to banned in OntarioSummary:

  • Ontario is set to ban celebrities and athletes from endorsing ads related to iGaming
  • There’s some confusion as to whether popular poker pros will be covered by the ban
  • AGCO will release additional guidance by the end of the year to address that issue

In late August, Ontario announced stricter rules for online gambling, under which celebrities and athletes will no longer be allowed to appear in any advertising or marketing related to online gambling. The new rules will take affect from February 28, 2024.

But nearly two months after the changes were unveiled, confusion remains about the specific individuals covered by the measure. For online poker in particular, there are questions about whether Daniel Negreanu and other prominent poker pros with links to online poker rooms operating in the province are included in the ban.

No Definite Answer Yet from Ontario Regulators

Ontario is home to a booming online poker market, with the iGaming vertical recording higher quarterly revenue increases than sports betting and online casino gaming, based on Q2 figures released by iGaming Ontario (iGO).

At the moment, Ontarians have six online poker rooms to choose from: PokerStars Ontario, 888poker OntarioGGPoker Ontario/WSOP, as well as BetMGM Poker Ontario, bwin, and partypoker which run under one network and have a shared player pool. These operators are all closely monitoring any updates from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regarding its tightened rules on advertising and marketing.

The proposed changes will block the use of athletes, either active or retired, as well as celebrities in promoting online gambling. However, AGCO’s existing standards don’t make it clear whether professional poker players should be categorized as athletes or celebrities. And this is something the regulator is still trying to address.

Last month, the AGCO said it is still in talks with relevant stakeholders to help it develop its guidance on the new rules. AGCO will also be holding meetings with relevant parties in early November regarding the new advertising standards to achieve some clarity on the individuals covered by the ban, according to the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA).

The CGA also indicated that the new rules will apply universally across online casino gaming, online poker, and sports betting, given that they all fall under iGaming.

Poker Operators Wait Patiently

For now, online poker operators in Ontario will have to wait a little longer to know exactly how the new advertising rules will impact their operations and whether they should avoid using popular poker figures like Daniel Negreanu, in their ads and other promotional materials.

Additional guidance on the new rules could be available “before the end of the year”, CGA stated.

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