PointsBet Fined In Ontario For Responsible Gambling Violations

November 10, 2023
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Ontario’s gaming regulator has fined a second online operator this year for failing to meet the province’s responsible gambling requirements.
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Ontario’s gaming regulator has fined a second online operator this year for failing to meet the province’s responsible gambling requirements.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on Thursday (November 9) fined PointsBet Canada Operations 1 Inc. C$150,000 (approx. US$108,697) for multiple alleged violations of the responsible gambling provisions of the province's Standards for Internet Gaming.

The action against PointsBet followed an earlier fine of C$100,000 that was levied in August against online casino operator Apollo Entertainment, in which the AGCO hinted that responsible gambling violations were set to be a key enforcement focus going forward.

In the AGCO’s notice, the regulator said that PointsBet was being penalized for failing to appropriately intervene and provide assistance to a player who was potentially experiencing gambling harms. In this case, a player lost over C$500,000 in under three months.

The AGCO investigation found that 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 allegedly provided by PointsBet during that period.

PointsBet also failed to enforced a mandatory 24-hour cooling-off period when the player chose to cancel their daily deposit limit, according to the AGCO.

The AGCO also alleged that PointsBet violated standards that prohibit the offering of gambling inducements, bonuses or credits through direct advertising without active player consent. Despite the player withdrawing their consent for direct advertising and marketing, AGCO said that credits totaling C$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 the incidents demonstrated how PointsBet had 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.

“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,” Dr. Karin Schnarr, the new CEO and registrar of the AGCO, said in a statement. 

Schnarr stressed that the AGCO would continue “to focus on player protection by holding all registered operators to these high standards.”

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

According to Vixio’s Enforcement Tracker, previous AGCO enforcement actions have focused on the offering of bonuses or other inducements in public advertising, offering online casino games that have not been certified, or offering bets on minor league sports in violation of Ontario’s standards.

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