PointsBet Fined $150K in Ontario over Alleged Responsible Gambling Failures

The AGCO has issued several fines to iGaming operators in the province since Ontario launched its competitive market for online sports betting and casino gambling in April 2022.

Nov 9, 2023 • 16:38 ET • 4 min read
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The regulator of online sports betting and casino gambling in Canada’s most populous province has hit PointsBet with a $150,000 fine over accusations of responsible gambling mistakes.

PointsBet’s Canadian arm allegedly failed to “appropriately intervene and provide assistance” to a player who was potentially harming themselves with their gambling, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) charged Thursday in a press release

“In this case, a player lost over $500,000 in under three months,” the regulator said. “The player was flagged as potentially high-risk by the operator’s systems on multiple occasions, including due to incurring significant losses and making repeated withdrawal cancellations. Despite this, no interventions were provided by the gaming site operator during that period.”

The AGCO, which regulates online sports betting and internet casino play in the province, also alleged PointsBet failed to enforce a 24-hour “cooling-off period” when the player cancelled their per-day deposit limit. The Australia-based bookmaker also sent messages about gambling-related inducements, bonuses, or credits through direct advertising without obtaining player consent first, the AGCO claims. 

“Despite the player withdrawing their consent for direct advertising and marketing, credits totaling $35,500 were deposited on various occasions into the player’s account, and numerous offers of free tickets to sporting events were provided,” the AGCO said. “As demonstrated by these incidents, [PointsBet failed] to ensure that employees understood the importance of responsible gambling and were adequately trained to respond appropriately to, and assist, players who may be experiencing harm from gambling.”

The AGCO says ensuring licensed iGaming operators follow Ontario’s responsible gambling-related standards is a priority. As a result of this and the allegations above, PointsBet received an order of monetary penalty totalling $150,000, the AGCO said. 

PointsBet can appeal the penalty to Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal if it so chooses. Based on the early response by the operator, it just might avail itself of that right. 

"We are aware of the recent allegations put forth by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario,” a PointsBet spokesperson told Covers in an email. “Given this is an open legal matter, we will not provide further comment." 

License and registration, please

The AGCO has issued several fines to iGaming operators in the province since Ontario launched its competitive market for online sports betting and casino gambling in April 2022. 

Ontario is the only Canadian province to allow multiple private-sector operators of iGaming sites to legally take action within its borders. Ontario’s sizable population, the legality of online sports betting and broader forms of iGaming there, and its unlimited supply of licenses have also made it a popular spot for gambling operators, more than 40 of which have entered the province’s market.

The rush of operators also prompted a wave of advertising and promotion, which has triggered pushback from the AGCO. The regulator has hit operators with several fines for advertising and RG-related issues, including a $100,000 penalty handed down in August to Apollo Entertainment Ltd. That was connected to a player who lost more than $2 million in under four months. 

“In Ontario, igaming operators have an obligation to proactively monitor their patrons’ play for signs of high-risk gambling, and to take appropriate actions to intervene and reduce the potential for gambling related harms,” said Dr. Karin Schnarr, chief executive officer and registrar of the AGCO, in Thursday’s press release. “The AGCO will continue to focus on player protection by holding all registered operators to these high standards.”

Ontario is also moving toward an advertising regime free of athletes and certain celebrities, as the AGCO announced an update to its marketing rules earlier this year. The new standards will take effect on Feb. 28, 2024, and prohibit the use of athletes entirely in iGaming-related advertising in the province. 

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