Weekly News – Ontario Regulators Address Sports Betting Advertising Infractions

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The Canadian province of Ontario went live with commercial sports betting and iGaming on April 4. This was a planned expansion of the government-owned gaming operations in the country’s most populated province.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) played a vital role in the formation of rules and regulations for the commercial sector. These rules contained strict guidelines for legal advertising and promotional offers tied to commercial operators.

AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham emphasized this stance with the following statement:

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 Standards.

To further emphasize this zero-tolerance stance, the AGCO levied fines on BetMGM and PointsBet due to infractions of this policy. These infractions were tied to breaching the agency’s Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

More specifically, each operator was cited for infractions related to advertising sports betting promotional offers in the Ontario market.

There is a broad prohibition of advertising bonuses and other promotional incentives to the general public. Sportsbooks can list these offers on their individual website or mobile betting app. They can also relay these offers through direct advertising and marketing with individual consent from a customer.

BetMGM’s infraction of advertising regulations was through the improper use of Twitter. This resulted in a fine of CAN $48,000. One tweet advertised a “$250K Launch Party.” The winner of this incentive earned a $100,000 casino bonus.

The same tweet mentioned a $10 casino bonus tied to a $25 bet. There was also a “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday” promotion that included 100 free slot spins tied to following a designated Twitter account.

The AGCO fined PointsBet CAN $30,000. During the first few weeks of April, posters on public trains promoted free play incentives. PointsBet CEO Scott Vanderwel was quick to release the following statement:

On behalf of PointsBet Canada, I personally apologize for our error made in the interpretation of the standards set fourth by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario 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.

He went on to add:

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.

PointsBet CEO Scott Vanderwel

Written by Dave Schwab, our US sports betting industry expert.