We’ve all heard the phrase or some variation of “as long as you’re living under my roof, then you’re going to obey my rules.”
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) made this very clear to PointsBet Canada last Thursday when it issued the internet gaming operator a Notice of Monetary Penalty in the amount of $150,000 for failing to meet Ontario’s Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.
According to the AGCO, the penalty relates to several alleged violations of the Standards, including, but not limited to:
- Failed to appropriately intervene and provide assistance to a player who was potentially experiencing gambling harms. In this case, a player lost over $500,000 in under three months The player was flagged as potentially high-risk by the operator’s systems on multiple occasions, including due to incurring significant losses and making repeated withdrawal cancellations. Despite this,?no interventions?were?provided?by the?gaming site?operator?during that period.
- Failed to enforce the required 24-hour cooling-off period when the player cancelled their per-day deposit limit.
- Communicated gambling inducements, bonuses, or credits through direct advertising without active player consent. Despite the player withdrawing their consent for direct advertising and marketing, credits totaling $35,500 were deposited on various occasions into the player’s account, and numerous offers of free tickets to sporting events were provided.
- As demonstrated by these incidents, failed to ensure that employees understood the importance of responsible gambling and were adequately trained to respond appropriately to, and assist, players who may be experiencing harm from gambling.
“In Ontario, iGaming operators have an obligation to proactively monitor their patrons’ play for signs of high-risk gambling, and to take appropriate actions to intervene and reduce the potential for gambling related harms,” said Dr. Karin Schnarr, AGCO Chief Executive Officer and Registrar in a statement about the PointsBet Canada penalty. “The AGCO will continue to focus on player protection by holding all registered operators to these high standards.”
This all follows the beginning of meetings last week between the AGCO and sportsbook operators and other stakeholders in the industry regarding the update of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming
, which was announced at the end of August to prohibit the use of athletes, celebrities, role models, social media influencers, entertainers, cartoon figures, and symbols in internet gaming advertising and marketing in the Canadian province. These amended standards will go into effect on 28 February 2024.
“Sessions were good,” said Paul Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Gaming Association, on yesterday’s Gaming News Canada Show podcast. “It’s great that this consultation is happening. It’s great that the industry is taking the opportunity to share their thoughts with the AGCO. I think in this process the more dialogue, the better, and we’ll get the best outcome. There wasn’t the right consultation on the frontend of this, but there is now. That’s very important for the industry to have because we accept the principal that no one wants to create advertising marketing that is focused to minors or appeals to minors. Everyone accepts that. Everyone wants to comply with the regulatory standards of the AGCO. So, let’s work together to make sure we all do that.
Burns went on to say, “Accepting the first principals of the proposed standards, that’s what we’re going to work from and that’s what we’re going to work toward. And whatever the standards, interpretation, or the standards themselves look like at the end of this process, it will have gone through a good measure of consultation industry input because the industry wants to be able to comply, but it also wants to be able to market itself. It’s just making sure that the tools are there for people to do that…enforcement has been part of the discussion through this process as well. It’s been great.”