The news hit like a thunderbolt: PointsBet Canada – which operates the PointsBet Ontario Sportsbook – was assessed a $150,000 penalty by the Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario (AGCO) for failing to meet Ontario’s responsible gambling requirements.
The issue revolved around a player who lost more than $500,000 in under three months. AGCO claims there were several alleged violations of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, including that PointsBet Canada failed to appropriately intervene and provide assistance to a player who was potentially struggling with gambling.
According to an AGCO statement, the player was flagged by the operator’s systems on multiple occasions, but no interventions were provided by the gaming site operator during that period. The AGCO statement on PointsBet, released last week, said that the operator failed to enforce the required 24-hour cooling-off period when the player cancelled their per-day deposit limit.
The Ontario sports betting operator also, according to the AGCO, allegedly violated the provision about communicating gambling inducements, bonuses, or credits through direct advertising without active player consent. In this case despite the player withdrawing their consent for direct advertising and marketing, credits totaling $35,000 were deposited on various occasions into the player’s account, as well as numerous offers of free tickets to sporting events.
PointsBet Canada Reacts To Fine
According to a spokesperson from PointsBet Canada: “We are aware of the recent allegations put forth by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Given this is an open legal matter we will not provide further comment.”
PointsBet is one of many Ontario sportsbook apps that have been operating since the legal market launched in April 2022. One of the benefits of having a fully legal, regulated market is consumer protections such as responsible gambling measures.
A registered operator that has been served a penalty by the AGCO has the right to appeal the fine to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, independent of the AGCO.
The AGCO also says the incident was a sign the operator failed to ensure that employees understood the importance of responsible gambling and were not adequately trained to respond appropriately to and assist players who may be experiencing harm from gambling.
AGCO Enforces Responsible Gambling Measures
Such protections are in place for those using Ontario online casinos and mobile sportsbooks in the province.
“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, chief executive officer and registrar of the AGCO, said in the statement. “The AGCO will continue to focus on player protection by holding all registered operators to these high standards.”