The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has imposed a hefty fine of CA$150,000 on PointsBet Canada. This action comes in response to several alleged violations of the province's Registrar's Standards for Internet Gaming.
Breach of Player Protection Standards
The fine encompasses all breaches identified at PointsBet Canada, centering around their failure to implement responsible gambling practices. Notably, the operator was found negligent in providing necessary assistance to a customer potentially experiencing gambling harm. This lapse in responsibility was highlighted by the case of a player who lost over half a million dollars in less than three months.
Failure to Intervene with High-Risk Player
PointsBet Canada's systems flagged this user as potentially high-risk multiple times, notably when the player incurred significant losses and repeatedly canceled withdrawal requests. Despite these red flags, AGCO stated that PointsBet provided no interventions during this period, a critical failure in adhering to responsible gambling protocols.
Cooling-Off Period Ignored
Another major violation by PointsBet Canada involved disregarding the mandatory 24-hour cooling-off period required when players cancel their per-day deposit limit. This rule is a crucial aspect of the operator's license in Ontario, aimed at preventing impulsive gambling behaviors.
Marketing Rule Breaches
AGCO also pointed out violations of marketing rules by PointsBet Canada. This includes communicating gambling inducements, bonuses, or credits via direct advertising without active player consent. In one instance, a player who withdrew support for direct marketing still received credits totaling $35,500 and multiple offers for free tickets to sporting events.
Lack of Staff Training in Responsible Gambling
The investigation revealed that PointsBet Canada failed to train its employees adequately in responsible gambling practices. Staff lacked the necessary understanding and skills to assist players potentially experiencing harm from gambling, a critical component of reliable gaming operations.
AGCO's Commitment to Player Protection
AGCO CEO and Registrar Karin Schnarr emphasized the importance of iGaming operators in Ontario to proactively monitor their patrons' play for signs of high-risk gambling. She reiterated AGCO's dedication to player protection and enforcing high standards for all registered operators.
PointsBet Canada's Right to Appeal
As with any monetary penalty in Ontario, PointsBet Canada can appeal the fine. The company has yet to issue a response to this penalty.
Contrasting Developments in the US
Compared to Canada's situation, PointsBet's operations in the United States are undergoing significant changes following a deal with Fanatics Betting and Gaming (FBG). FBG recently completed the acquisition of PointsBet's operations in New York and Wyoming and secured approval for acquisition in eight other states. However, these developments in the U.S. do not impact PointsBet's operations in Canada.
A Call for Responsible Gaming Practices
AGCO's fine on PointsBet Canada serves as a stern reminder of the importance of adhering to responsible gambling standards. It underscores the need for operators to be vigilant in protecting players from gambling-related harm and maintaining high standards of operation to ensure a safe and responsible gaming environment.