DraftKings Canada Finished For Advertising And Inducements Violations

Another sports betting operator is being regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for violating advertising and inducement standards in Canada’s largest province.

DraftKings was issued a Notice of Monetary Penalty totaling $100,000 (CAD) by the AGCO on Thursday afternoon for infractions of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The AGCO says Standard 2.05, which prohibits the advertising of inducements, bonuses, or credits, except when a user is on the operator’s direct website or through direct advertising and marketing issued after receiving active player consent, was violated between May 19-31 when DraftKings aired multiple gambling inducements offering boosted odds for hockey games during the NHL playoffs on TV and social media channels.

DraftKings has the right to appeal the action to the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.

Sports Handle reached out to DraftKings for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

“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. It is in the public interest that we ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards,” said AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham in the release.

DraftKings’ online sportsbook and casino launched in Ontario on May 18, over a month after the regulated iGaming and sports betting market went live on April 4.

Still confusion over advertising standards

Just one month after the launch of Ontario’s market, two operators — PointsBet Canada and BetMGM Canada — were fined for advertising and induces infractions by the AGCO.

PointsBet Canada was fined $30,000 (CAD) for violating the same Standard 2.05 as DraftKings, while BetMGM Canada was tagged with a monetary penalty of $48,000 (CAD) for violations of both Standards 2.04 and 2.05.

Standard 2.04 requires that all operator marketing, advertising, and promotions must be truthful, not mislead players, or misrepresent products, including materials that imply that chances of winning increase the more one spends.

According to the AGCO, BetMGM was fined for the following actions:

  • A “$250K Launch Party” advertisement, including a contest offer where the first-place winner was to receive $100K in casino bonus. The post was initially tweeted on April 4, and then again on April 11.
  • A “Bellagio” advertisement, including an offer of a $10 casino bonus in return for a $25 bet. The post was tweeted on April 4, April 6, and April 8.
  • A “Jimi Hendrix Free Spin Friday,” offering a chance to win 100 free spins in return for following BetMGM’s Twitter account. The post was tweeted twice on April 8.
  • A tweet stating that “the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning,” posted on April 10.

The AGCO also the following PointsBet Canada violations:

  • During the period of April 4-21, it placed posters “with an inducement to play for free” on the Toronto area’s GO Transit trains, train stations, “and in multiple products.”

Shortly after the fines were issued, PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel issued a statement, apologizing for the “error in interpretation of the standards.” BetMGM Canada declined to comment on the fines.

During the Canadian Gaming Summit in early June, many operators were seeking clarification from regulators on a number of their standards, including advertising and inducements. Regulators hosted a closed-doors roundtable discussion with operators already live in the province to clear up any issues or concerns they’ve had since the launch of the market.

Regulators also hosted a 90-minute webinar in March to clarify their complicated and unique standards surrounding advertising and inducements.

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