By Mark Wadie

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

The Ontario iGaming market is barely a month old and already two of the first licensees in the province have received fines for breaching the advertising code there.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the body that oversees regulation of the market, published a press release on Tuesday 3rd May stating that the two operators had been issued with fines for breaches relating to ‘advertising and inducements’.

The AGCO code is clear on this area and prohibits the advertising of free bets or other inducements to play for free unless the offer is displayed on the operator’s website or after the customers has given their consent to receive offers in the case of direct advertising or marketing.

The press releases states that BetMGM have been fined $48,000 and PointsBet Canada have been fined $30,000.

The fine issued to BetMGM relates to tweets posted via their Twitter account advertising a $250k launch party with a $100k casino bonus giveaway in the first week of April, a $10 bonus reward for $25 bets in the same week, and a Jimi Hendrix Free Spins party where 100 free spins on the Hendrix slot game would be awarded for following the BetMGM twitter account on 8th April.

On 10th April it is reported that BetMGM also tweeted that ‘the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chances of winning’.  This has been construed as misleading advertising, a clear contravention of the rules.

PointsBet Canada were fined for advertising inducements to play for free on the GO trains system in Ontario.

The Chief Executive Officer and Registrar at the AGCO 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.”

PointsBet issued a statement in which Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada, said:

“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”.

According to the AGCO press release, ‘Ontario is one of the only jurisdictions in the world to prohibit broad public advertising of bonuses and other gambling inducements.’

These early fines should send a warning to other real money casino licensees in the province that the regulator is watching them and will not hesitate to take action where it sees its rules have been broken.

The Ontario gaming market has got off to a solid start with 13 operators and 21 brands live in the province and many more applications in the pipeline. To be there you use our list of the latest licensed Ontario online casinos.