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CFL Opposes Federal Regulations on Sports Wagering Ads

While the league acknowledged the ongoing efforts to ensure operators adhere to responsible advertising practices, it noted that an outright ban was unnecessary

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has vocally opposed federal regulations on sports betting advertisements, advocating for self-regulation by professional sports organizations instead. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie expressed this stance in a letter to the Senate committee on transport and communications, advocating for a balanced approach to ensure the sport’s integrity while maintaining vital revenue streams for teams. 

Ambrosie’s letter comes in response to Bill S-269, which has passed its second reading in the Senate. The proposed bill aims to significantly limit sports betting advertising and establish national standards to prevent problem gambling. Notably, it includes a ban on endorsements by celebrities and athletes in promoting all forms of sports betting.

Ambrosie argued that a national framework to regulate sports betting advertising is unnecessary, as the industry already had all the safeguards to prevent abuse and safeguard the game’s integrity. He emphasized the efforts by the CFL and other leagues to self-regulate. Ambrosie added that current measures were sufficient and further regulation could disrupt an already working system.

The CFL’s stance reflects its history with sports betting. In 2021, Canada legalized single-event sports betting, and the CFL subsequently endorsed wagering on single games under strict conditions prohibiting players, coaches, and officials from placing bets. Back then, Ambrosie lauded the league’s self-regulation efforts, highlighting its unwavering focus on the sport’s integrity.

Ontario, the only Canadian province to regulate retail sportsbooks, has seen significant financial benefits from sports betting. According to iGaming Ontario, the province handles approximately $63 billion in wagers annually. Despite the booming revenue and the CFL’s self-regulatory measures, Ambrosie maintained that additional federal regulation is unwarranted.

The CFL commissioner advocated for a balanced approach, preserving the game’s integrity while allowing for the benefits of regulated sports betting. Ambrosie highlighted the ongoing efforts by high-profile leagues to address the sector’s evolving challenges. He admitted that this self-regulation approach had room for improvement but remained confident in its effectiveness.

Despite the CFL’s position, self-regulation faces significant challenges due to the vested interest of stakeholders. Most high-profile European jurisdictions, for example, opt for more centralized regulation, prioritizing player safety above all else. As the debate over Bill S-269 progresses, Canadians must decide on the best methods to manage sports betting advertisements and prevent problem gambling.

Mikey Balhan Sports

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