Unibet hit with $48k Ontario regulatory penalty for advertising breaches

Alleged ‘advertising infractions’ have landed Unibet a financial penalty of $48,000, charged by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The sportsbook brand, a division of Stockholm-listed gambling group Kindred, has been active in the Ontario betting and gaming space since April, having secured entry shortly after market launch.

Like many European and US-based firms, Unibet has targeted an active presence in Ontario – Canada’s most populated province and the location of some major sports teams, such as NHL and MLB franchises.

“We expect all registered operators to achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection, and game integrity,” commented Tom Mungham, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the AGCO.

“The AGCO will continue to monitor these gaming sites’ activities, and ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards.”

Specifics of the regulatory penalty related to advertising, with the AGCO stating on its website that Unibet allegedly posted multiple brand betting inducements promoting ‘generous welcome offers’ between 19-22 May.

This is in breach of the province’s Standard 2.05, which restricts “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”.

In the lead up to the market launch on 4 April, the AGCO informed operators that inducements were defined as any promotional offer encouraging gambling activity – such as sign-up offers, deposit offers, offer of a reward, bonus or “boosted” odds, refund/stake-back offers, multi-bet offers, or winnings paid on losing bets.

Unibet has the right to appeal the AGCO charge to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the commission and part of Tribunals Ontario.

The commission added that the region’s “igaming regulatory framework exists in part to ensure Ontario’s igaming market achieves high standards in such important areas as responsible gambling, protection of minors, and game integrity”, 

Additionally, the AGCO reminded any operators interested in the provincial gambling market that “Ontario strictly prohibits broad public advertising of bonuses and other gambling inducements, and the AGCO will continue to take regulatory action”.

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