Just one month after the launch of Ontario‘s regulated iGaming and sports betting markets, regulators have penalized two operators for violating terms of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, one of two provincial regulatory agencies (iGaming Ontario is the other) overseeing the new sports betting and iGaming markets, announced Tuesday evening it had fined PointsBet Canada and BetMGM Canada for alleged infractions pertaining to advertising and inducements.
PointsBet Canada was fined $30,000 (CAD) for violating Standard 2.05, while BetMGM Canada was tagged with a monetary penalty of $48,000 (CAD) for violations of both Standards 2.04 and 2.05.
Standard 2.05 prohibits the advertising of inducements, bonuses or credits, except when a user is on the operator’s direct website or through direct advertising and marketing issued after receiving active player consent.
Standard 2.04 requires that all operator marketing, advertising, and promotions must be truthful, not mislead players or misrepresent products, including materials that imply that chances of winning increase the more one spends.
“The AGCO holds all registered operators to high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity, and monitors their activities to ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards,” said Tom Mungham, CEO and registrar of the AGCO, in a news release.
AGCO issues monetary penalties to BetMGM Canada and PointsBet Canada for alleged advertising and inducement infractions. https://t.co/ydw1H7cD1R
— AGCO (@Ont_AGCO) May 3, 2022
The AGCO’s policies aim to “protect the public interest and ensure Ontario’s iGaming market operates responsibly and with integrity.” The release also states Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in the world to ban broad, public advertising of bonuses and inducements.
According to the AGCO, here are BetMGM’s alleged violations:
- A “$250K Launch Party” advertisement, including a contest offer where the first-place winner was to receive $100K in casino bonus. The post was initially tweeted on April 4, and then again on April 11.
- A “Bellagio” advertisement, including an offer of a $10 casino bonus in return for a $25 bet. The post was tweeted on April 4, April 6, and April 8.
- A “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday,” offering a chance to win 100 free spins in return for following its Twitter account. The post was tweeted twice on April 8.
- A tweet stating that “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning,” posted on April 10.
The AGCO noted the following PointsBet Canada violations:
- During the period of April 4-21, it placed posters “with an inducement to play for free” on the Toronto area’s GO Transit trains, train stations, “and in multiple products.”
PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel issued the following statement via email to Sports Handle on Tuesday evening regarding the AGCO’s ruling:
“On behalf of PointsBet Canada, I personally apologize for our error made in the interpretation of the standards set forth by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) leading to this outcome. I am appreciative of the considerable efforts made by our local team and close partners to remediate the issue once we were notified. As I have stated in the past, we pride ourselves on our reputation as a compliant operator and believe in working collaboratively with regulators inside the legal framework. We are advocates for the legalization and legitimization of this industry and believe in the importance of creating a level playing field in which all operators contribute to safe, responsible play.”
BetMGM had not responded as of Wednesday morning to a request for comment.
Both operators launched their iCasino and sports betting platforms in Ontario on April 4 and have the right to appeal the fines to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, which operates independently as part of Tribunals Ontario.