BetMGM, PointsBet First to Receive Regulatory Fines in New Ontario Online Gambling Market

  • BetMGM Canada received a CA$48,000 (US$37,464) fine for advertising inducements
  • PointsBet Canada received a CA$30,000 (US$23,415) fine for similar transgressions
  • Operators can only advertise bonuses and free bets on websites or to certain customers
  • The legal online betting and iGaming market in Ontario only went live on April 4
Canadian dollars
BetMGM and PointsBet have received the first regulatory fines since the launch of the iGaming market in Ontario last month. [Image:]

Issues with advertising

The new Ontario online sports betting and iGaming market may have only been live for one month, but two operators have already received regulatory fines. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced on Tuesday that it had issued fines to PointsBet Canada and BetMGM Canada:

BetMGM Canada received a CA$48,000 (US$37,464) fine for failures relating to “advertising of inducements, bonuses or credits” and misleading marketing. Meanwhile, PointsBet Canada received a CA$30,000 (US$23,415) fine for advertising-related breaches.

operators can not broadly advertise gambling inducements

According to Ontario law, operators can not broadly advertise gambling inducements like bonuses and free bets except on their website or when people have consented to receive direct marketing communications. The two operators have the option to appeal the fines to the License Appeal Tribunal.

Upholding the sector’s integrity

An official AGOC press release confirming the fines went into some detail regarding the specific infractions. BetMGM Canada’s advertising breaches relate to three tweets last month regarding various online casino bonus offers. This includes one tweet that stated: “The more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning.”

In contrast, PointsBet Canada’s infractions related to posters it had erected in two GO train stations and GO trains which showed an inducement for people to play for free. PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel has issued a public apology regarding the infractions, referring to the operator’s misinterpretation of the AGCO regulations.

AGCO holds all registered operators to high standards”

Commenting on the fines, AGCO CEO and registrar Tom Mungham 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.”

A major market

Ontario’s new sports betting and iGaming market first launched on April 4. For many years, Canadian bettors could only place parlay wagers. An amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code last year made single-event sports wagering possible. Ontario is the first Canadian province to launch a regulated online gambling market in which private operators can earn a license.

The AGCO is in charge of regulating the gaming, alcohol, private cannabis, and horse racing retail sectors in the province.

While Ontario is yet to release data regarding the monetary performance of the iGaming market, operators have indicated some results in regard to sportsbook app downloads. For the first ten days of the regulated market, theScore Bet had a 35% share of all downloads, followed by Bet365 with 27%, FanDuel with 16%, and BetMGM with a 9% share.

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