Ontario Regulator Fines Unibet Over Ads

According to a recent press release announced via a tweet on its official Twitter account, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued an Order of Monetary Penalty against Unibet. The Kindred Group-owned operator has received a CAN$48,000 ($37,051) penalty for allegedly going over a series of regulations regarding advertising and inducements. 

What Rules Did Unibet Allegedly Break?

As discovered by the AGCO, Unibet breached Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming belonging to inducement and advertising. More exactly, the company that was founded by Anders Ström in 1997, breached Standard 2.05 between May 19 and May 22 when it posted a series of ads or aired several broad gambling inducements promoting “generous welcome offers”. Standard 2.05 includes a series of clear limitations imposed on advertising bonuses, inducements, or credits, with the exception of inducements presented on operators’ websites or using direct marketing and advertising issued after receiving consent from players.  Amanda Brewer, Country Manager Canada, Kindred Group commented on this event:

Kindred erred in its interpretation of inducement language when it developed advertising to launch Unibet in the Ontario market. We regret we were non-compliant with an important AGCO standard, and we will strengthen our internal processes to ensure we stay compliant. Kindred always aims to operate with high standards of responsible gambling and player protection, which includes how we market our products to our customers.

Amanda Brewer, Country Manager Canada, Kindred Group

Ontario’s regulator does not, therefore, allow any broad public advertising for bonuses and similar inducements, with the AGCO continuing its efforts to punish operators breaching the Standard while keeping players and the iGaming market as a whole safe. 

The same regulations issued by the AGCO guarantee the iGaming market in the province reaches high responsible gambling standards, protects minors from gambling risks and threats, and promotes the integrity of games. 

Unibet Has the Right to Appeal the Order of Monetary Penalty

According to the same regulatory framework, all registered operators in Ontario are allowed to appeal the Registrar’s Order of Monetary Penalty with the License Appeal Tribunal after being served with one. This is an adjudicative tribunal that does not belong to the AGCO and which is part of Tribunals Ontario. This means that the operator that received the prestigious Socially Responsible Operator (Online) award in 2020 at the International Gaming Awards can appeal the AGCO’s decision. The regulator was given the green light to operate in the Canadian province in March, one month before the official launch of the gaming market. 

The AGCO Will Keep a Watchful Eye on Operators 

AGCO’s chief executive officer and Registrar Tom Mungham explained the regulator expects all registered operators in Ontario to “achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection, and game integrity.“ Mungham added that the AGCO will keep monitoring the activities of all gaming websites to make sure that they are successfully fulfilling all obligations in accordance with Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards.

In July, AGCO fined DraftKings CAD$100,000 ($77,305) over similar advertisement rule failings.

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