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Athletes will no longer be able to promote online gambling in Ontario

Put effort and energy into what you can control, then let go of the rest. That’s the advice I’ve been hearing since I was very young (but have only been listening to for the last ten years or so).

In your personal life, in sport, in business… believe me, it’s the basis of sound mental health and eventual success.

The university professors I’ve come across along the way would complicate this by saying that, in business, you have power over what’s intrinsic to your company. Because what’s extrinsic can change and evolve very quickly…

A few years ago, three brilliant businessmen from the Montérégie region – a special salute to Francis and Filipe – sold their click-through Web giant Fan-o-Web to Attraction Média, a large Quebec company headed by Richard Speer.

The three guys pocketed millions of dollars… because they sold just in time. Just a few months after the mega-transaction, Facebook changed its algorithm and the price of its ads also began to rise considerably. In short, the click factory that was Fan-o-Web saw its profit margin melt like snow in the sun.

The company’s value plummeted… and the guys considered themselves lucky to have sold then, rather than two or three quarters later.

Why am I telling you about Fan-o-Web this morning? Because a piece of news launched by the excellent Rick Westhead could make Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre as “lucky” as the three founders of Fan-o-Web

And Playmaker Capital a company with bad buying timing like Attraction Média.

The news is this: as of March 2024, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will prohibit the use of athletes (active or retired) in the promotion of online gambling in the province. The aim of this law: to protect younger players who have access to content sponsored by these companies/athletes.

Guys like Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Wayne Gretzky, Georges St-Pierre… Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre will no longer be able to promote online sports gambling in Ontario.

They’ll only be able to advocate responsible gaming and healthy gambling practices (if such a thing exists). Forget it!

What will happen to online gaming sponsorships in La Poche Bleue podcasts… knowing that even though they’re mostly watched in Quebec, not Ontario, they’re now owned by an Ontario company? We don’t know.

Even crazier: Playmaker Capital, the new owner of La Poche Bleue, is a company that specializes in sports gambling. I’ve been told by well-connected people in the business that the company may have paid more for LPB than its market value, given that it could become the de facto sponsor of sports gambling – via its partners in the business.

It will be interesting to see what consequences this law will have in 2024.

Remember that online sports betting – like all online gambling – is only legal when operated by Loto-Québec in Quebec. Having your podcast, show, station or media outlet sponsored by Playmaker Capital/Betano, Bet99, Playground or any other non-governmental company is therefore already illegal in La Belle Province.

We’ll add another layer of illegality for podcasts or programs broadcast in Quebec AND Ontario and featuring active or retired athletes.

Note that in Ontario, online gaming has been opened up to any company that applies and pays for a special permit. I’ve been hearing for years that it’s coming to Quebec too… but it’s not quite there yet.

Let’s get back to the new Ontario law and its concrete consequences…

The Maple Leafs will no longer be able to partner with online gaming companies. Online gambling is as dangerous as alcohol or (soft) drugs. Since the pandemic, many people have isolated themselves to gamble online… and lost everything. It’s so easy to lose everything by clicking two or three keys on your cell phonekeyboard…

All this reminds me of the end of cigarette sponsorship in sport, especially F1. We were told that motor racing would never recover. And yet, it has recovered VERY well…

F1’s #1 challenge isn’t finding big sponsors right now, it’s bringing some parity back to the track. Watching Max Verstappen take it all is getting tiresome…


– Playmaker Capital is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Six months ago, it was trading at around 60 cents a share. This morning, it opened at just over 40 cents.

It’s making a profit… but will the purchase of La Poche Bleue help it make even more? Or will the poor timing of the transaction come back to haunt her?

Find out in the coming months.

– Still, it would be surprising to see the Quebec government emulate its Ontario neighbor. Why should it? Because here, the profits generated by legal sports betting go exclusively into the pockets of the state. Just like with the SAQ…

Still, it’s rare in Quebec to see a decision-maker hurt his “company ” by extension…

Unless the heat is too much. We’ll see.

– Some sports media on life support survive on online gambling (often illegal in the first place). If I had to…

– It will be interesting to see – if it comes to light – what happens to the contracts already signed between certain athletes and online sports betting companies. Will they become null and void, to the great detriment of certain athletes? Will they become a thorn in the side of certain gambling companies?

– I can understand the reasoning behind this new law. It’s like energy drinks, flavored cigarillos, colored vaporizers and other potentially harmful products aimed first and foremost at younger people. If you have to be 18 to go to the casino, we have to make sure as a company that under-18s aren’t targeted by such companies…

But at the same time, are Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews targeting young people when they promote an online betting site? What’s different from I don’t know which athlete touts a brand of beer or hard liquor between the first and second periods on Saturday night TV?

Yes, there are a lot (too many?) online sports betting ads in our sports media! And in Quebec, most of them are illegal. Will the grey zone become a little blacker or a little whiter as a result of this new law? Don’t you think it’s time to clean up the Canadian online gambling scene?

What do you think of Ontario’s new law and the media’s focus on online gambling?

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