New Ontario PSA Aims to Educate Public on Risks of Gambling

The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) joined forces with ThinkTV, a marketing & research firm backed by advertisers, on the radio & television campaign.
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November 16, 2022

There is risk with online gambling, and that’s a reality nobody is shouting about. A public service announcement (PSA) campaign designed to educate the public on the risks of online gambling has begun airing in Ontario.

The province opened its regulated online poker, casino gaming, and sports betting market in April this year. But six months after real money iGaming went live, the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) felt compelled to launch the PSA to counter a barrage of advertising by online operators seeking to attract new customers.

“The launch of Ontario’s new regulated online market, coupled with the legalization of single-event sports betting, has drastically increased gambling-related marketing and advertising,” RGC said last month when it announced the campaign.

The Toronto-based non-profit added that the PSA was “born out of the need to balance this influx with responsible gambling messaging.”

RGC tapped ThinkTV — a marketing and research firm supported by nearly all commercial TV advertisers in Canada — to help lead the PSA.

Radio and television stations in Ontario have been airing a 30-second spot created by the ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo. In it, an actor shouts that “online betting is booming” before adding, “you could win big.”

“But you could also lose. There is risk with online gambling, and that’s a reality nobody is shouting about.”

The broadcast community plays an important role in shaping the gambling advertising landscape, & we are proud to lead the charge in a responsible way to meet the needs of the industry & the public. In Ontario, the ads have aired across broadcast networks. In the future, the RGC said it could expand its audience to the rest of Canada. They direct the audience to the website KnowTheRisks.ca for additional information about risks and safer play strategies.

RGC said the PSA was necessary because online poker, casino gaming, and sports betting have been “presented as a fun and exciting entertainment activity,” but the message that all gambling comes with risk and that the public “should understand and use strategies to keep their play safer.”

The PSA spot mimics actual sports betting ads, which Ontarians have seen plenty of since April.

“With the rise of online gambling and sports betting advertising in Ontario — and across Canada — we recognized there was a need to help the public understand the sensationalized ads we’re seeing on TV don’t necessarily reflect reality,” said Shelley White, CEO of RGC. “It is important for everyone to learn and understand the risks involved when gambling in the online space and how to minimize those risks when playing online.

“This campaign is more important than ever as new operators continue to enter the market. We are proud to be collaborating with ThinkTV and Canada’s broadcasters to deliver critical, responsible gambling messages to the public so that people can make informed decisions if they gamble.”

ThinkTV Chairman Alan Dark said the firm was “delighted to work with RGC to support ongoing player protection initiatives with our member broadcast networks.

“There is an opportunity for us all to work together to ensure Ontarians receive a balanced message when it comes to online gambling and sports betting. The broadcast community plays an important role in shaping the gambling advertising landscape, and we are proud to be leading the charge in a responsible way to meet the needs of the industry and the public.”

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