Rideau Carleton Casino owners fined $227,000 for alleged rule violations

The operator of Ottawa’s Rideau Carleton Casino has been fined more than $227,000 by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for dozens of alleged regulatory violations, including “repeatedly” failing to implement, follow and enforce anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

According to an audit of HR Ottawa LP, owned by Hard Rock International and better known as Hard Rock Ottawa, to assess compliance with the AGCO Registrar’s Standards for Gaming, Rideau Carleton Casino’s owners also allegedly advertised to people who had self-excluded from gambling activities, failed to sufficiently protect gaming systems and data from security vulnerabilities, and did not ensure that staff were properly trained. HR Ottawa, LP assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway in 2017.

The total fine levied is $227,250.

“The standards exist to protect Ontarians and audits of gaming operators are one of the tools the AGCO regularly uses as part of its regulatory oversight of the gaming industry,” the AGCO said in a statement.

According to a statement from the AGCO, there are 36 alleged violations by HR Ottawa LP, including:

  •  Provided advertising and marketing materials to individuals who had self-excluded from gambling activities.
  •  Repeatedly failed to implement, follow, and enforce required anti-money laundering policies and procedures.
  •  Failed to address matters of concern identified by internal auditors in a timely manner.
  •  Maintained a compliance oversight function that was not independent of the company’s operations, as is required.
  •  Failed to sufficiently protect gaming systems and data from security vulnerabilities in accordance with established industry and technology good practices.
  •  Not ensured that staff completed necessary training in important areas like anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

“The AGCO has the mandate and the responsibility to ensure casinos are operating with honesty, integrity, and in the public interest,” AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham said in a statement. “These penalties are intended to drive the improvements needed at the Rideau Carleton Casino, and we will be carefully monitoring the casino’s activities to ensure these significant audit findings are addressed.”

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The AGCO says the operator of the Rideau Carleton Casino can appeal the Registrar’s findings to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

In a statement to CTV News, Rideau Carleton Casino general manager Helen MacMillan said the “majority of issues” related to the audit have been “aggressively corrected.”

“Rideau Carleton Casino takes this matter extremely seriously. We have been in regular communication with the AGCO and have been working actively and definitively to address all issues,” MacMillan said. “The majority of issues related to the audit have been aggressively corrected, including and not limited to, change in personnel. We will continue to improve and address any and all regulatory issues to ensure full compliance moving forward.”

In recent weeks, the AGCO has also handed out fines relating to Ontario’s new regulated online gaming and betting and market, first sanctioning PointsBet Canada and BetMGM and then fining DraftKings for alleged breaches of advertising standards.

The fine for Hard Rock Ottawa, though, far exceeds those other sanctions. DraftKings was hit with a $100,000 fine, while the penalties for BetMGM and PointsBet Canada were $48,000 and $30,000, respectively.

Image: Hard Rock Ottawa
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