Ontario gaming regulator fines 2 gambling companies for alleged infractions

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Investigation and Enforcement Bureau at the Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands in Gananoque, Ont. on Friday, July 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

The body that regulates gambling and gaming in Ontario has fined two betting companies less than a month after the province launched its internet gambling market.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) served BetMGM Canada and PointsBet Canada with notices for financial penalties, the body said in a press release.

The notices were for alleged advertising and inducement breaches.

Ontario significantly liberalized betting rules on April 4 with the launch of its regulated internet gambling market, named iGaming.

For years, parlays were the only legal bets allowed in the province.

In 2021, the Canadian Criminal Code was amended to allow single-game bets, but in Ontario, accepting bets was limited to the provincially-run PROLINE+.

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The launch of iGaming promised to bring a regulated market to Ontario with more betting options under a provincially-run framework.

The AGCO said that BetMGM had been fined $48,000 for allegedly failing to comply with Standards 2.04 and 2.05 of the Standards for Internet Gaming. It also said that PointsBet was fined $30,000 for breaching Standard 2.05.

Standard 2.04 prohibits companies from marketing “gambling inducements, bonuses and credits” unless it is on their website after a player has given “active” consent.

BetMGM was fined for three separate tweets that ran in early April, according to the AGCO. One tweet advertised a “$240k Launch Party,” while a second offered a $10 casino bet when a $25 bet was placed, the AGCO said.

According to the AGCO, a third tweet promoted a “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday.”

PointsBet was alleged to have broken the same standard with posters in GO stations and on GO trains that included “an inducement to play for free.”

“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,” Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada, said in a statement.

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According to the AGCO, BetMGM also broke its rules in a tweet that said “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning.” The rules stipulate advertisements must be “truthful” and “not mislead players or misrepresent products.”

BetMGM did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News.

“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,” Tom Mungham, CEO and Registrar of AGCO, said in a statement.

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Ontario launches new online gambling market

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