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MSIFN call on sports athletes to stop advertising for iGaming organizations

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

SCUGOG: The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) is calling on professional athletes to stop advertising iGaming organizations.

In a series of Tweets, on Tuesday, May 16th, the MSIFN posted letters to hockey icons Connor McDavid, Wayne Gretzky and Auston Matthews. The letters were from Chief Kelly LaRocca, Councillor Laura Colwell and Councillor Jeff Forbes.

iGaming involves either online sports betting, where people bet on the outcome or outcomes of a game, sport or other event, or online casinos.

"Some may view it as unfair, but the reality is, with your level of social influence comes social responsibility. As the representatives of a First Nation which continues to suffer the intergenerational effects caused by Residential Schools, we are profoundly concerned as you advertise for iGaming. More than a year after iGaming's launch, our community has watched gambling revenue increase in the province, while gaming addiction has increased exponentially among the people of our province and beyond. Unfortunately, we still haven't seen the worst of it, and we are calling upon advertisers to limit the use and number of promotions for iGaming. This forms part of the responsible gaming agenda which was once so adhered to by the province and yet fell by the wayside once internet gaming came into their line of sight," the letter stated.

The letter then went into the potential effect of sports stars endorsing these organizations on the industry.

"A gambling addict, who is constantly reminded by a personal idol and sports legend about how simple it is to participate in compulsive addictive behaviour, can have far-reaching impacts on themselves, their children, and their communities. The fallout from addictions will shape Canadian society for generations to come. The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation is a proud owner of a casino in the GTA [Scugog Island]. As such, we are not denying the fun and excitement gambling can bring, and we are not judging your interest in the subject. However, through our own experiences, we are aware of the responsibility which comes when you promote a service [which] could cause harm to a vulnerable person."

The letter concluded by calling on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to "restrict athlete and celebrity participation in internet gambling advertising" and for athletes to "not promote the iGaming agenda any further."

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