Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is taking verbal shots for endorsing and appearing in commercials for the B.C. Lottery Corp.’s online poker website.
The ads showcase Luongo playing poker, with the suggestion that if you go online at Playnow.com, you might get to play against the Canucks’ top goaltender.
"He's endorsing something that is potentially dangerous,” psychological counsellor Candace Plattor told CBC News Monday. “People don’t take this seriously enough. It is potentially dangerous. He may as well being saying to people, to kids, ‘Sure, go and smoke.’"
Plattor, who specializes in addictions counselling, said Luongo’s endorsement is not appropriate role modelling for fans.
"I'm very disappointed that he would do this,” Plattor said. “I think he doesn’t have his facts. I think he might have made a really poor choice.”
Loungo deflected the criticism.
"It's poker, it's one of my passions,” he said Monday. “It's a great endorsement and this site is licensed by the government and so it's really exciting for me."
Luongo, who has appeared before in televised charity poker games, said he doesn’t get to play as much as he’d like to, given how busy he is during the National Hockey League season.
"I try to do the least amount as possible because obviously I want to focus on playing hockey,” he said.
The BC Lottery Corp. declined to reveal how much it’s paying Luongo for the commercials and ads.
Luongo signed a 12-year contract extension in September 2009 worth about $64 million.