The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued a CAD$ 48,0000 fine to Kindred Group brand, Unibet, for breaches of marketing regulations in the province by advertising ‘inducements to bet’ in May 2022.
The fine relates to specific campaigns run between 19th and 22nd May which included references to generous welcome bonuses.
The terms of a gambling license are set out in the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming and Standard 2.05 states that free bets, free spins and bonuses of any kind cannot be advertised outside of the casino or sportsbook website unless a registered customer has opted-in to receive direct marketing communications.
The AGCO’s restrictions go further than those set out by most online gambling jurisdictions but they are in keeping with the organisation’s aim of putting responsible gambling and player protection at the forefront of their framework for legal online gambling.
In respect of the fine, Tom Mungham, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the AGCO, said: “We expect all registered operators to achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity. The AGCO will continue to monitor these gaming sites’ activities, and ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards.”
The error on the part of Unibet appears to have been a fairly clear and obvious one, but it’s not the first time that an operator has tested the boundaries of what the AGCO see as acceptable.
In July this year, Draft Kings were hit with a $100,000 fine for promoting enhanced odds during the NHL play offs, and in May BetMGM were fined $48,000 and PointsBet were fined $30,000 for a similar breach of terms.
Kindred Country Manager for Canada, Amanda Brewer, responded to the fine with the following statement:
“Kindred erred in its interpretation of inducement language when it developed advertising to launch Unibet in the Ontario market. We regret we were non-compliant with an important AGCO standard, and we will strengthen our internal processes to ensure we stay compliant. Kindred always aims to operate with high standards of responsible gambling and player protection, which includes how we market our products to our customers.”
The operator has the option to appeal the fine through the Ontario License Appeal Tribunal.
Ontario Fines Are Small Compared to UK Market
The fine issues to Unibet this month and to PointsBet and BetMGM back in May are relatively small, reflecting the size of the market in Ontario right now.
In the UK, gambling operator, Entain, was recently hit with a record-breaking £17 million fine by the UK Gambling Commission for Social Responsibility and Anti Money Laundering failings across its brands including Ladbrokes, Foxy Bingo and Coral. And in early August, Leo Vegas was fined £1,300,000 for similar failings.