A month into commercial Ontario sports betting, regulators have issued the first fines to sportsbook operators for breaking the province’s strict advertising rules.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario served BetMGM and PointsBet with fines for breaching the agency’s Registrar’s Standards For Internet Gaming, according to an AGCO release Tuesday. The infractions are related to restrictions on advertising for Ontario sports betting.
“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,” AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham said in the release.
Ontario sports betting advertising restrictions
Ontario regulations include a broad prohibition of advertising for bonuses and other incentives to the general public.
Operators can include them on their website, or through direct advertising and marketing after an individual player’s consent. The operators can appeal the regulator’s penalties.
BetMGM’s infractions came via Twitter, while PointsBet’s were in advertising on the GO Transit system.
BetMGM Ontario sports betting infractions
The AGCO fined BetMGM CAN$48,000 for its infractions.
According to the release, the fine is a result of four incidents:
- A tweet advertising for a “$250K Launch Party” with the winner receiving a $100,000 casino bonus
- A tweet including a $10 casino bonus in return for a $25 bet
- “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday” promotion that included 100 free spins in return for following a Twitter account
- A tweet that said, “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning”
PointsBet Ontario infractions
The AGCO hit PointsBet with a CAN$30,000 fine.
There were two cited incidents for the penalty:
- From April 4 to April 22, posters on GO trains and in multiple products promoted free play.
- From April 4 to April 17, posters at two GO stations promoted free play.
PointsBet issues apology
BetMGM and PointsBet launched April 4, the first day of commercial online sports betting in Ontario.
PointsBet released a statement following the AGCO release.
“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,” PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel said. “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 has not responded yet to a request for comment.