Ontario regulators have dropped their most severe fine to date for violations of the province’s prohibition on inducements in gambling advertising, slapping DraftKings Canada with a C$100,000 fine.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) said Thursday (June 30) that between May 19-31, DraftKings “posted or aired multiple broad gambling inducements that included inducements of boosted 2-1 odds,” and that the promotion was distributed widely via television and social media channels.
The AGCO says Standard 2.05 of the province's internet gaming regulations restricts operators from any sort of public advertising of inducements, including deposit bonuses, free bets, and in this case, odds boosts.
Inducements, bonuses, or credits can only be offered when a consumer is on the operator’s website or through direct marketing after receiving active player consent, according to the regulations.
“The AGCO will continue to monitor the activities of all registered operators and hold them to high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity,” Tom Mungham, CEO and registrar with the AGCO, said in a statement announcing the fine.
“It is in the public interest that we ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards,” Mungham said.
DraftKings has the right to appeal the fine to the License Appeal Tribunal, which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.
In a statement, DraftKings did not disclose if it will appeal the fine. The company stressed that it was “committed to complying with all applicable regulations in every jurisdiction in which we operate."
“Upon being informed of the potential issue shortly after our launch, we took immediate action to remove the assets in question,” DraftKings said.
Ontario launched its regulated iGaming and sports-betting market on April 4.
About a month later, the AGCO fined BetMGM C$48,000 and PointsBet C$30,000 for violations of the advertising rules that included social media posts by BetMGM and posters on local trains by PointsBet.
At the Canadian Gaming Summit last month, the AGCO sought to make clear to operators that the prohibition on inducements in advertisements were intentionally broad and encouraged operators to cease pushing the limits of the ban.
“We're regularly surprised by some of the advertisements and the practices that we're seeing come forward, and some of them are pushing the envelope, and frankly, are not compliant,” Jay Welbourn, senior manager of technology regulation and compliance for the AGCO, said at the conference in Toronto.
“For anyone who hasn't visited your site, they should have no expectation or indication or awareness that any inducements exist,” he added. “That's the goal.”