The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued C$150,000 in penalties to PointsBet for responsible gambling violations.
The operator failed to meet several of the responsible gambling requirements set out in Ontario’s regulations, the AGCO said.
In one case, for example, PointsBet failed to intervene with a player who was able to lose more than C$500,000 in less than three months.
The player had been flagged by the operator as potentially high-risk on multiple occasions, the AGCO said, due to markers including incurring significant losses and making repeated withdrawal cancellations.
Despite being flagged, however, “no interventions were provided by the gaming site operator during that period.”
Other failures included failing to enforce a required 24-hour cooling-off period for the player when cancelling their daily deposit limit, and communicating gambling inducements, bonuses or credits through direct advertising without player consent.
Despite having withdrawn consent for direct advertising and marketing, the player was still provided with credits totalling C$35,500 into their account, as well as several offers of free tickets to sporting events.
The AGCO determined that the case demonstrated a failure to ensure that PointsBet employees understood the importance of responsible gambling and were adequately trained to assist players who may be experiencing harm.
“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,” said AGCO CEO and registrar Dr. Karin Schnarr.
“The AGCO will continue to focus on player protection by holding all registered operators to these high standards.”
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has amended regulation to stop licensed operators from using athletes and celebrities in gambling marketing.
Following two updates to the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, the use of athletes in iGaming advertising will be prohibited, as will the use of celebrities who are of particular appeal to minors.
The new rules will come into effect from 28 February 2024.
AGCO identified these marketing approaches as having the potential to cause harm to those under legal gaming age in the Canadian province. It has therefore seen fit to reduce that risk.
The AGCO initially held consultations on the issue in April 2023, including contributions from a broad range of stakeholders, including public health organisations and gambling operators.
Following these consultations, the AGCO has determined that prohibiting the use of athletes and restricting celebrity endorsements can help to safeguard children and young people who can be particularly susceptible to such content.
The amended standards will apply to both active and retired athletes in igaming marketing and advertising, except for the exclusive purpose of advocating for responsible gambling.
Outgoing AGCO CEO Tom Mungham said: “Children and youth are heavily influenced by the athletes and celebrities they look up to.
“We’re therefore increasing measures to protect Ontario’s youth by disallowing the use of these influential figures to promote online betting in Ontario,” he added.
Athletes and celebs are also banned from gambling marketing in other regulated markets such as the UK, with material governed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Earlier this month, the AGCO unveiled the appointment of Dr Karin Schnarr as its new CEO. The Wilfrid Laurier University professor will take over from 18 September 2023.
Ontario’s regulated online gambling market went live on 4 April 2022.
Amelco, the leading sports betting and platform supplier, has announced that it will be launching in Ontario, the first time it will showcase its end-to-end product in the Canadian region.
The move marks a major milestone for Amelco, with the provider to roll out its full end-to-end solution, having seen its iGaming, player account management and sportsbook suite being granted a Gaming Related Supplier licence by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Following the announcement, Amelco expects to confirm its first major Ontario partner within the coming weeks.
Ontario itself boasts an influx of some of the country’s sporting giants such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors, with Amelco having high expectations that its platform will be a huge success with players across the province.
The extensive popularity of iGaming in Ontario is also expected to be a key differentiator for Amelco, with its full iGaming suite to provide games from the likes of Evolution, NetEnt, Red Tiger, Pragmatic Play and Pariplay.
Commenting on its Ontario launch, Brandon Walker, head of Amelco USA, said: “This represents a significant milestone for us, and we are thrilled to be finally entering Ontario, where we are confident that both our sportsbook and iGaming products will prove to be very popular.
“Moving into an area with such a rich sporting history boosts our hopes of making an immediate impact within the space and with multiple operators already lined up to go live, we are confident of making a fast start in the province.
“We have huge plans coming up over the next 12 months and we want to expand our presence across Canada as other provinces are granted licences.”
Operators in Ontario’s regulated online gambling market generated C$526m in revenue from C$13.9bn in wagers in Q4 of the 2022/23 fiscal year.
That gave the market a sequential growth rate of 13.6% in terms of revenue and 20.9% in terms of handle compared to fiscal Q3.
Since launch, the market’s average quarter-on-quarter growth rate has been 50.6% by revenue and 53.1% by handle.
The fastest growth period took place between Q2 and Q3 (June-September and October-December), as revenue leapt 74.7% and handle grew 90.4%.
Q4, for the three months ending 31 March 2023, saw operators in the province generate 3.2x more revenue than the market’s first quarter post-launch, as wagers increased by 3.4x.
As previously reported by iGaming NEXT, Q4’s performance brought total revenue for the market’s first year to C$1.4bn, as total wagers reached C$13.9bn.
Just over 1 million player accounts were active in Q4, out of the total 1.65 million that were active during the full year.
The average monthly spend per active player account was C$174 during the quarter, while the average across the full year was significantly lower at C$70.
In sports betting, basketball was the most popular sport in the market’s first year, accounting for 29% of all wagers.
Soccer came second, followed by American football and hockey, which contributed 15%, 13% and 9%, respectively, while baseball came in fifth place with 8% of wagers.
In online casino, 48% of handle came from slots, 32% from live table games and 19% from RNG-based table games.
Ontario’s first-year performance placed it firmly within the top five online gambling jurisdictions in North America by both handle and revenue.
A new social gaming and real-money online casino operator called Betty has raised a $5m seed round led by tech-focused operating fund Karlani Capital.
Who is Betty for?
Betty said it has identified a large audience of casual online casino players, particularly female slot enthusiasts, “who are underserved by existing brands which, at their core, are sportsbooks.”
It plans to soft launch its slots-only online casino in Ontario – where it already holds a licence from the local regulator – in February, followed by a full-scale market launch during Q2 this year.
One of the investors participating in the round, LGBTQIA+ and allies’ private investment syndicate Gaingels, commented: “Sports betting and casinos have historically been marketed to men.
“In reality, women make up more than half of the market. We love Betty’s mission to make the category more inclusive.”
According to Betty’s website, the brand is “a community-driven and slots-only casino,” whose mission is “to maximise the entertainment value of iCasino for casual players by creating an environment that is safe, social, and inclusive.”
The brand will offer slot games from suppliers including NetEnt, Games Global, Wizard Games, Red Tiger, Pragmatic Play and Big Time Gaming.
Details of the seed round
The seed funding will go towards the continued development of Betty’s proprietary online casino platform which it said is “tailor-made for the North American customer.”
In addition to Karlani Capital and Gaingels, also participating in the seed round are CEAS Investments, Courtside Ventures, OCA Ventures, Subversive Capital, and 305 Ventures.
Between them, those investors have, or previously had, investments in gambling firms such as FanDuel, Jackpot.com, GameCo, Jackpocket, SimpleBet, Rivalry, PrizePicks, and others.
The latest funding round follows on from a $1.8m pre-seed raise which took place in March 2022.
Who’s behind it?
Betty is led by co-founder and CEO Justin Park.
Park was previously the co-founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a sports betting media and data platform which was acquired by New York-listed broadcasting company Entercom (now known as Audacy) for $32m in 2020.
Prior to that, Park co-founded and acted as CEO for video marketing platform Vidaao, which was acquired by content marketing platform and services company Skyword in 2014.
Betty’s other co-founders include former head of platform engineering for Bede Gaming, Chavdar Dimitrov, and experienced designer Annie Zeng, who has previously worked with clients including Nasdaq, LG, Univision and JetBlue.
Former chief operating officer of QL Gaming Group, Jordan Tuch, is another of Betty’s co-founders, along with former VP of product for Pariplay, Vlad Pavlov.
Malta-based online gambling operator PressEnter Group has entered the Ontario market with the regulated launch of its NitroCasino brand.
The operator, which also operates other brands including 21.com, recently made its debut in Canada’s first regulated iGaming market after securing approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
It said the market is expected to be one of the largest in the whole of North America, and therefore represents an important step as the operator continues to expand into regulated markets across the globe.
The firm’s broader plans for international expansion have recently seen its Ultra Casino brand launch in Chile and Peru, while the operator expects further market entries across Latam over the coming months.
“We have an ambitious international expansion plan and entering Ontario is yet another step towards PressEnter Group becoming a truly global, top-tier operator,” said PressEnter CEO Lahcene Merzoug.
“Ontario is a market with great potential for operators that can deliver engaging, entertaining player involvement and that is where we excel. We look forward to seeing players from Ontario enjoy the high levels of entertainment that our brands deliver.”
Merzoug told iGaming NEXT that the NitroCasino brand was selected for the Ontario market because its combination of sleek design and user experience is well-suited to the Canadian audience.
“NitroCasino is one of our flagship brands and for the Canadian market we have pushed hard with the addition of sportsbook, a crucial element for the Canadian market,” he said.
“We have also added localised providers, but most important is the way we communicate with our customers, ensuring full localisation from the tone of voice, down to the look and feel of the brand.”
He added that Ontario – which he described as “one of the most challenging market entries one can do globally” – will form a key part of PressEnter’s growth strategy moving forward.
“Continuing on our aggressive growth plan, we know that Ontario, albeit highly competitive, can be a fruitful market which is why we intend to invest in building loyalty and value throughout our marketing initiatives.
“We do plan to launch more brands in the market but only time will tell when, for now our focus is having a successful launch with Nitrocasino.ca.”
PressEnter has been on the offensive throughout 2022, making a number of high-profile industry hires to bolster its in-house talent and help support the group’s expansion internationally.
The latest hire saw Terese Thagaard arrive at the company in September as chief legal officer from rival operator LeoVegas.
Ontario, which has been live with regulated online gambling since 4 April, generated $4bn handle in Q3 2022, resulting in $193m of operator revenue.
Malta-headquartered online gambling operator Novibet expects to enter at least four North American territories in 2022 and 2023 after signing a new market-access deal with Caesars Entertainment in New Jersey.
The multi-year agreement with Caesars will provide Novibet the opportunity to conduct online sports betting and iGaming operations in the Garden State for a period of 10 years.
The contract follows a similar deal struck by the operator earlier this year to operate a Novibet-branded online gambling operation in Pennsylvania for 10 years – though that agreement excludes online sportsbook and poker.
Both deals are subject to Novibet obtaining the necessary operating licences, service licences and other government approvals. The operator plans to launch its novibet.com domain in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 2023.
In addition to its planned US entries, Novibet also intends to enter both the Mexican and Canadian markets in 2022.
The operator has secured market access for iGaming and online sports betting in Mexico through a partnership with land-based operator Big Bola Casinos. Big Bola is one of just 14 operators authorised to offer legal sports betting and online casino services in the country.
Under that agreement, Novibet will be responsible for all player acquisition, promotion and retention, and will share any revenue generated by its Novibet.mx brand with Big Bola.
The brand is expected to go live in Mexico during the second half of 2022.
Novibet is also in the process of securing approval to enter Ontario’s regulated sports betting and iGaming market, having submitted a licence application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
The operator said it is on track to launch its iGaming and sports betting platform in the province – pending regulatory approval – in Q4 of this year, with additional provinces to follow.
Novibet CEO George Athanasopoulos said: “The expansion of our iCasino platform into new regulated markets, including in North America, is a major pillar of our growth strategy.
“Our focus on ensuring our technology platform, product offerings and customer engagement and retention initiatives are fully aligned and in sync with local player preferences has allowed us to enter new markets through our differentiated, engaging online gaming experience.
“We expect to replicate this success in the new North American markets we enter by remaining true to our operating disciplines and leveraging the proven popularity of our product offerings,” he added.
In a deal first announced in March this year, Novibet is expected to go public on the Nasdaq through a business combination with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Artemis Strategic Investment Corporation.
The listing, which would value the business at $696m, is expected to take place during the second half of 2022 subject to approval by Artemis shareholders and other customary closing conditions.
Bally’s Corporation has gone live in Ontario’s regulated iGaming market with its Bally Bet brand.
The Canada-facing ballybet.ca domain is now accepting customers, with an introductory $100 risk-free offer on the homepage for new customers.
Notably, however, the US operator is currently offering only online slots and table games, and not online sports betting to punters in Canada’s first fully regulated province.
A notice on the website currently reads: “Come play with a giant: Bally Bet Casino has arrived. One of the best-known names in American casinos is now in Ontario. Packed with the most thrilling online slots and table games, there’s something for everyone.”
The operator adds: “And we’re only just getting started. We have big plans just around the corner, and we’re excited. You should be too. You’ll quickly come to know that Bally’s is always ready to raise the level of thrills.”
Congrats!🏆 @BallyBetCanada has joined the new market as a regulated and approved Operator.#PlayWithConfidence #onlinecasino #onlinegambling #gambling #gamblingonline #safergambling #sportsgambling #esportsbetting pic.twitter.com/nRzZ9X8qm0
— iGaming Ontario (@iGamingOntario) July 20, 2022
Bally Bet currently offers online sports betting to customers in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Virginia and New York, where it entered the market several months after it was initially granted a licence.
The operator also offers online casino gaming to customers in New Jersey, under its Bally Casino brand, rather than Bally Bet.
iGaming NEXT understands that Bally’s is applying the final touches to its sports betting offering before launching a sportsbook in the market, although it has not provided a concrete go-live date.
Since launching its regulated market on 4 April, there are currently 19 online operators live in Ontario, offering 32 gambling URLs between them.
With a population of more than 14 million, the province is expected to be one of the most lucrative regulated online gaming markets in North America.
Since going live, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has already begun cracking down on non-compliant operators.
Both BetMGM and PointsBet were struck with financial penalties within a month of the market’s opening for failing to comply with marketing regulations that prohibit broad public advertising of bonuses and other inducements to gamble.
DraftKings subsequently received a C$100,000 penalty in July for breaching the same regulations in May.
Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has been granted a supplier licence in Ontario, allowing it to partner with operators based in the newly regulated Canadian province.
Having opened as recently as April 2022, the registration marks an entry for GiG that will allow it to serve a market expected to grow to €2bn in gross gaming revenue (GGR) over the next three years, according to data from H2 Gambling Capital.
The registration granted to GiG by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) covers GiG’s B2B sportsbook and player account management (PAM) systems.
Claudio Caruana, general counsel for GiG, said: “In receiving the registration from the AGCO, we have reached another important milestone in our resolute commitment to supporting the iGaming industry for regulated markets, and we’re delighted to be prepared to power new and potential partners in the province.”
GiG is now licensed in 22 regulated markets, with another four applications pending.
In addition, the Malta-headquartered group has signed a platform and managed services partnership agreement with Aspers Group, a major retail casino operator in the UK.
GiG will supply Aspers with its turnkey solution to help the operator expand its online gaming footprint.
GiG CEO Richard Brown: “We look forward to working closely with the Aspers team to maximise their potential through a successful digital transformation and anticipate that Aspers will become a significant and high-value client for GiG.”
The contract is for a three-year term, renewable thereafter. The Aspers’ business segment supported by GiG’s services is anticipated to launch in Q4 2022, with an expected positive contribution from Q1 2023.
Since its launching in 2005, Aspers has built a retail operation that includes casinos in London’s Westfield Stratford City, which is one of the largest in the UK, as well as in Newcastle, Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Richard Brown, CEO of GiG, said: “We look forward to working closely with the Aspers team to maximise their potential through a successful digital transformation and anticipate that Aspers will become a significant and high-value client for GiG.
“This type of deal is directly in our wheelhouse, helping land-based operators digitally transform and showcase our product in the UK market,” he added.
GiG will provide a fully managed solution, which includes the technical platform, fully managed services, frontend development, CRM and marketing, to operate the online casino as phase one.
Expansion into further verticals is planned for the second phase of the partnership.
The UK’s online casino market is estimated to generate circa £4bn in GGR during 2022.
Richard Noble, Aspers CEO, added: “We are delighted to join forces with GIG to provide a first-class omni-channel solution for our guests and launch our own branded online site extending the Aspers casino experience to both online and retail customers.”
DraftKings has been fined C$100,000 over marketing breaches in Ontario by the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO).
According to the AGCO, DraftKings “posted or aired multiple broad gambling inducements” via television and social media between May 19 and May 31, 2022.
This was in violation of Ontario’s Standards for Internet Gaming, specifically standard 2.05.
Ontario’s gambling regulation includes clear restrictions on the advertising of inducements, bonuses or credits, except when they are on an operator’s site, or through direct advertising and marketing issued after receiving active player consent.
Ontario strictly prohibits broad public advertising of bonuses, free bets and other inducements to gamble.
AGCO CEO Tom Mungham: “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.”
Tom Mungham, CEO and registrar of AGCO, said: “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.”
DraftKings has the right to appeal at Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal.
The Nasdaq-listed betting heavyweight is not the first company to be hit with a fine in Ontario.
In spring, BetMGM and PointsBet received financial penalties for similarly failing to comply with Ontario’s marketing standards.
DraftKings was granted its Ontario licence six weeks after the launch of the market on 4 April and therefore later than many of its rivals.
The DraftKings mobile app was only available to download four days after the company went live in the province.