BetMGM and PointsBet handed Ontario penalties over marketing breaches

| By Robert Fletcher
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued monetary penalties to BetMGM and PointsBet after alleging the two operators breached regulations related to advertising and inducements.

The BetMGM Canada arm of BetMGM was served a notice of monetary penalties totalling CA$48,000 (£29,974/€35,565/US$37,401) for alleged failure to comply with Standards 2.04 and 2.05 of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The PointsBet Canada division of PointsBet was also served a Notice of Monetary Penalties amounting to $30,000 for alleged breaches of Standard 2.05.

Standard 2.05 prohibits advertising and marketing materials that communicate gambling inducements, bonuses and credits, except on an licensed operator’s gaming site and via direct advertising and marketing, after receiving active player consent.

Meanwhile, Standard 2.04 states all operator marketing, advertising and promotions to be truthful, not mislead players or misrepresent products, including requiring materials do not imply the chances of winning increase the more a player spends.

The Standards were finalised and announced in September 2021 ahead on Ontario opening its legal online gambling market on 4 April this year.

Detailing the specific violations of these Standards, the AGCO alleged how BetMGM Canada ran a ‘$250K Launch Party’ advert, including a contest offer where the winner would receive a $100K casino bonus. The post was initially tweeted on 4 April and again on 11 April.

BetMGM Canada also ran a ‘Bellagio’ ad, including an offer of a $10 casino bonus in return for a $25 bet, with the post initially tweeted on 4 April, and again on 6 April and 8 April. In addition, the operator posted a ‘Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday’ for the chance to win 100 free spins on Twitter several times on 8 April. 

According to the AGCO, these three cases were regarded as breaches of Standard 2.05.

BetMGM Canada was also found in violation of Standard 2.04, when it posted a tweet stating that “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning” on 10 April.

Meanwhile, PointsBet Canada was flagged for two alleged breaches of Standard 2.05, the first of which was that during the period from 4-21 April, posters were place on GO trains and in multiple products with an inducement to play for free.

In addition, the AGCO said that between 4 and 17 April, PointsBet Canada placed posters at two GO train stations with an inducement to play for free.

“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 chief executive and registrar Tom Mungham said.

Both BetMGM Canada and PointsBet Canada will have the option to appeal the decisions to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.

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