Since launching online sports betting and casino gambling in April 2022, Ontario has begun rigorously regulating these activities and has issued hefty fines to several iGaming operators in the province. The most recent fine was imposed on PointsBet’s Canadian arm, totaling $150,000 for failing to adhere to responsible gambling guidelines, specifically for not intervening and assisting a high-risk player who lost over $500,000 in less than three months.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) accused PointsBet of neglecting to enforce a 24-hour “cooling-off period” after the player canceled their per-day deposit limit. Additionally, the operator allegedly sent gambling-related promotions to the player without obtaining their consent first, despite the player withdrawing their consent for direct advertising and marketing. As a result of these allegations, PointsBet received an order of monetary penalty totaling $150,000, with the option to appeal to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
This fine is part of a series of penalties issued by the AGCO since Ontario opened its iGaming market, which attracted over 40 operators due to the province’s large population and the legality of online sports betting. However, the rush of operators also led to a surge in advertising and promotion, prompting pushback from the AGCO, which has penalized operators for advertising and responsible gambling-related issues. One example is the $100,000 penalty given to Apollo Entertainment Ltd. in August for a player who lost over $2 million in under four months.
The AGCO emphasized that iGaming operators in Ontario must proactively monitor their patrons’ play for high-risk gambling and take appropriate actions to reduce potential harms. As part of this focus on player protection, Ontario is also moving toward an advertising regime free of athletes and certain celebrities, with new standards set to take effect in February 2024.
Overall, the AGCO is committed to holding all registered operators to high standards of player protection, reflecting the growing priority of responsible gambling and consumer protection in Ontario’s iGaming market.