BetMGM, PointsBet Receive 'Notice Of Monetary Penalties'

Ontario Regulator To BetMGM, PointsBet: We’re Fining You For Alleged Ad Policy Violations

This is a breaking news story about BetMGM and PointsBet. Online Poker Report will update it.

BetMGM and PointsBet learned today that they’re being fined for allegedly violating the ad policies of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

AGCO issued a statement today about the notices it sent to the online gambling operators. The regulator approved both to enter the expanded iGaming marketplace that launched on April 4.

The regulator notified both of their “alleged infractions” of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming:

  • BetMGM Canada: a $48,000 fine for eight tweets that allegedly violated the standards by referring to bonuses, free play and “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning”
  • PointsBet Canada: $30,000 in penalties for print ads on trains and at two stations that allegedly included non-permitted inducements for “free” play

Online Poker Report contacted BetMGM and PointsBet for comment.

PointsBet sent OPR this quote from Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada:

“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. I am appreciative of the considerable efforts made by our local team and close partners to remediate the issue once we were notified. As I have stated in the past, we pride ourselves on our reputation as a compliant operator and believe in working collaboratively with regulators inside the legal framework. We are advocates for the legalization and legitimization of this industry and believe in the importance of creating a level playing field in which all operators contribute to safe, responsible play.”

UPDATE: 05/05/2022

Tribunals Ontario Spokesperson Janet Deline told Online Poker Report today:

“The Licence Appeal Tribunal has not received an appeal for BetMGM Canada and/or PointsBet Canada.”

In Tuesday’s announcement, AGCO said:

“A registered operator served with Notice of Monetary Penalty by the AGCO has the right to appeal the Registrar’s action to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.”

BetMGM still hasn’t responded to OPR‘s request for comment.

AGCO contacted PointsBet before Launch Day

PointsBet took down a questionable tweet before the April 4 iGaming marketplace expansion.

As OPR reported then:

On March 19, a Canadian affiliate marketer asked AGCO about a PointsBet tweet that said:

“Hey Ontario

“Have you signed up for your FREE welcome offer yet?

“Don’t miss out. Sign up today:”

On Thursday, AGCO replied to the affiliate:

“To clarify, restrictions on bonus advertising also includes advertising the availability of an offer.”

Ontario has strict advertising, marketing rules

US online gambling operators are used to using words like “bonus” and “free” in their ads.

Ontario prohibits those words on outbound messaging.

So operators tend to have to regularly check what they’re allowed to say in their advertising and marketing.

AGCO tells operators:

“Advertising and marketing materials that communicate gambling inducements, bonuses and credits are prohibited, except on an operator’s gaming site and through direct advertising and marketing, after receiving active player consent.”

However, operators may need to dig a bit on AGCO’s site to find Ontario’s marketing and advertising guide.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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