The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced Tuesday it has served BetMGM Canada and PointsBet Canada, two AGCO-registered internet gaming operators, with Notices of Monetary Penalty for alleged infractions of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, pertaining to advertising and inducements, “in order to protect the public interest and ensure Ontario’s igaming market operates responsibly and with integrity”.
The Standards include clear restrictions on the advertising of inducements, bonuses or credits, except when they are on an operator’s site, or through direct advertising and marketing issued after receiving active player consent (Standard 2.05).
They also require that all operator marketing, advertising and promotions must be truthful, not mislead players or misrepresent products. This includes requiring that materials not imply that chances of winning increase the more one spends (Standard 2.04).
BetMGM Canada has been served a Notice of Monetary Penalties totaling $48,000 for their alleged failure to comply with Standards 2.04 and 2.05. PointsBet Canada was fined $30,000.
BetMGM Canada posted some alleged gambling inducements that led to the penalty, including a $250K Launch Party advertisement, involving a contest offer where the first-place winner gets $100K in casino bonus; a “Bellagio” advertisement including an offer of a $10 casino bonus in return for a $25 bet; and a “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday” with the chance to win 100 free spins in return for following the registrant’s Twitter account.
PointsBet Canada advertised posters on GO trains and in multiple products with an inducement to play for free during April.
A registered operator served with monetary penalties by AGCO has the right to appeal the Registrar’s action to the License Appeal Tribunal, which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.
Ontario is one of the only jurisdictions in the world to prohibit broad public advertising of bonuses and other gambling inducements.
In an official statement, Tom Mungham, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar at AGCO, spoke about these measures and said: “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.”
The Ontario iGaming and sports betting market went live on April 4, 2022. Since then, both PointsBet Canada and BetMGM Canada have been positioning themselves in the new jurisdiction with strategic partnerships with Canadian teams and leagues.
PointsBet signed a multi-year agreement with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, becoming an Official Sports Betting Partner of the MLSE's pro sports teams. The National Hockey League also signed a deal with BetMGM to accompany the brand's expansion into Canada.