CFL Commissioner Opposes National Framework for Sports Betting Ads

The issue of sports betting advertising has been a prominent topic in Canadian discussions, with CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie expressing opposition to a proposed national framework. Bill S-269, the National Framework on Advertising for Sports Betting Act, was recently discussed in two sessions of the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. The bill suggests developing and implementing a national framework to regulate sports betting advertisements, including limiting their frequency. However, it stops short of advocating a complete ban.

Ambrosie’s Stance

Commissioner Ambrosie, in a letter to the committee, argued against the necessity of a national framework for regulating sports betting ads. He highlighted that the CFL already manages betting advertisements on league-controlled channels, such as broadcast-visible signage, to control their frequency and prominence during games. Ambrosie emphasized the league’s commitment to responsible gaming initiatives and educating its employees on responsible betting.

“The CFL has demonstrated its commitment to the integrity of our sport and to a safe sports wagering environment for those who choose to bet on our games,” Ambrosie stated. He asserted that the measures taken by the CFL and other sports leagues are sufficient, making a national framework unnecessary.

CFL’s Measures and Fan Feedback

Ambrosie noted the CFL’s efforts to limit the visibility of authorized gaming operator partners during games and mentioned the league’s ongoing consideration of more formal policies to manage sportsbook advertising volume and frequency. He added that the CFL regularly monitors fan feedback, including complaints related to the volume of sportsbook advertising.

“While we do not claim perfection, we recognize the need to remain open-minded and continue to learn and evolve,” Ambrosie acknowledged.

Broader Debate on Sports Betting Ads

The debate on sports betting advertising has gained significant attention, including at the recent Canadian Gaming Summit in Toronto. Senator Marty Deacon, the sponsor of Bill S-269, described the spread of gambling advertising across Canada as a “flood” and a “barrage.” The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has called for nationwide standards to govern the promotion of gambling products, citing concerns about the potential harm to minors.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Canada (AGCO) has taken steps to mitigate these risks, banning sportsbooks from using celebrities or imagery appealing to minors and prohibiting billboard advertising near youth-centric areas like schools. The commission recently ordered the removal of sportsbook advertisements from an arena that hosts youth hockey teams.

CFL’s Gambling-Related Issues

Separately, the CFL is dealing with a gambling-related issue involving Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, who was suspended for allegedly betting on league games, including one in which he played in 2021. An independent arbitrator has reinstated Lemon’s suspension. Ambrosie stressed the importance of prohibiting CFL personnel from wagering on league games to maintain the league’s reputation. The CFL has recently reviewed and updated its gambling rules and protocols for employees.


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