Ontario is now a month into its regulated online gambling market, and it has already meted out two penalties to companies that have colored around the lines. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario or AGCO for short issued financial penalties to both BetMGM Canada and PointsBet.
Regulator Fines PointsBet and BetMGM in Ontario
AGCO fined the pair for alleged advertising and bonusing shortcomings which resulted in the regulator acting and setting an example of the pair. The recent change in legislation paved the way for an inundation of companies who rushed to the market to present locals with a variety of gambling options.
Until April 4, 2022, Ontario limited residents to parlay bets, a type of accumulator where you must bet on several selections at the same time to win and generally enabled the black market to thrive. A much-anticipated change in legislation came in 2021 when the government agreed to permit single-event betting, and opened the sluice gates of massive change for the province.
Only a month after the official launch, though, BetMGM and PointsBet now have to pay $48,000 and $30,000 respectively. AGCO focused on individual sections of the Standards for Internet Gaming Code of Conduct, fining BetMGM for breaches of Section 2.04 and 2.05 and PointsBet for breaches of Section 2.05.
Essentially, Section 2.04 prohibits gambling companies from offering “gambling inducements,” such as bonuses and credits unless a player has given their consent to be advertised such. This usually happens after registration is complete, however, and not before through targeted campaigns on the Internet.
While BetMGM and PointsBet cannot be associated with any type of offshore activities, for many years, Ontario allowed companies without licenses to target the province and offer such inducements without consequence. This may have made companies misunderstand how lax the rules of the province would be, but the present penalties will set a tone that aligns Ontario with its stated Code of Conduct for gambling companies.
BetMGM was found in breach over three separate tweets, including one that promoted a $240K Launch Party along with two more that offered $10 casino and $25 sports betting free credits, AGCO explained. BetMGM also added another one talking about a Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday, all of which came short of the set advertisement standards.
Contrite and Ready to Do Better
Both companies have been quick to remedy the situation and assure that these breaches would not happen. PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel issued a public apology for missing the standards and argued that the company would ensure that it toes the regulatory line.
AGCO’s issue with BetMGM was over the wording of a tweet that argued that the “more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning,” which was clearly misworded and too suggestive of something that is not a fact. AGCO reminded stakeholders that any advertisement must be truthful, and as such BetMGM’s inducement came short.
AGCO CEO and registar Tom Mungham confirmed that all registered and licensed stakeholders would need to meet the advertisement standards set out by the authority and stick to those obligations.