Ontario Online Casino Operator Fined For Responsible Gambling Failings

August 11, 2023
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Ontario’s gaming regulator for the first time has fined an online operator for failing to meet the province’s responsible gambling standards and warned that all licensees have an obligation to monitor customer play for signs of problems.

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Ontario’s gaming regulator for the first time has fined an online operator for failing to meet the province’s responsible gambling requirements and warned that all licensees have an obligation to monitor customer play for signs of problems.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on Thursday (August 10) fined Apollo Entertainment Ltd C$100,000 for multiple alleged violations of the responsible gambling provisions of the province's Standards for Internet Gaming.

According to the AGCO, Apollo “failed to conduct the required interventions with players who may be experiencing gambling-related harms,” in violation of two standards that require operators to implement procedures to identify and prevent risks or gambling harm and systematically provide assistance to such players.

One online casino customer of Apollo's allegedly lost more than C$2m in four months without receiving interventions during that period, the AGCO said.

Apollo also failed to implement an adequate voluntary self-exclusion program or provide adequate tools for players to set financial and time-based gambling limits. The AGCO also found the company failed to ensure its employees understood the importance of responsible gambling.

“All registered operators have an obligation to proactively monitor patron play for signs of high-risk gambling and must take appropriate actions to intervene and reduce the potential for gambling-related harm,” Tom Mungham, CEO and registrar at AGCO, said in a statement.

The notice released Thursday marked the first time the AGCO has fined an iGaming operator for specific violations of responsible gambling standards since the market launched on April 4, 2022.

It also appears to be the first enforcement action of its type in North America, where New Jersey and Colorado have also implemented similar regulations requiring systematic monitoring and interventions in the case of problem gambling. Global regulators in the UK, Sweden and other markets have fined operators over similar lapses, for significantly higher amounts.

Apollo operates seven iGaming sites in Ontario, including Golden Tiger, Zodiac Casino and Luxury Casino. The company can appeal the fine, but executives were unavailable for comment on Thursday.

The AGCO confirmed that Apollo has been responsive to its regulatory findings and has already taken “significant steps” to strengthen responsible gambling controls on its websites to address the shortcomings identified by the agency.

The AGCO said its responsible gambling framework was developed following an in-depth review of approaches taken in leading jurisdictions around the world. It was also the subject of significant stakeholder consultations, including with Ontario’s responsible gambling community.

The C$100,000 penalty is the joint highest issued against an online gambling operator since the market launch last April, equalling the amount levied against DraftKings for violating standards that prohibit inducements within marketing.

The regulator has also penalised operators for offering uncertified casino games and bets on minor league sports in violation of Ontario standards, according to VIXIO's Enforcement Tracker.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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