The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has issued a fine to two operators – Fitzdares Canada and BV Gaming – for alleged breaches of its Standards pertaining to minor league sports.
The current regulations – specifically paragraph 15 of Standard 4.34 – prohibit operators from offering bets on ‘minor league sports’ in Canada, including the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
But, according to the AGCO, both Fitzdares Canada and BV Gaming have breached the rules by each offering bets on all three CHL leagues – Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League – in the 2022-23 season.
As a result, an ‘Order of Monetary Penalty’ totaling $15,000 has been imposed on each operator.
Dave Phillips, Chief Operating Officer, AGCO, commented: “As the regulator of Ontario’s sports betting industry, the AGCO is resolved to maintain the integrity of sports betting which, in turn, may serve to protect the integrity of sport. This includes a clear prohibition on offering bets in Ontario on minor league sports, including Canadian major junior hockey.
“We will continue to carefully monitor Ontario’s sports betting markets to ensure the public interest is protected.”
The AGCO further noted that both operators hold the right to appeal the Registrar’s action to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.
Fitzdares Canada and BV Gaming are not alone in facing the wrath of the AGCO – LeoVegas Gaming, Bunchberry, and Mobile Incorporated were all issued with fines in April for breaching standards – but breaching rules relating to minor league sports is particularly pertinent given the recent review into advertising standards by the Ontario Crown agency.
As previously reported, the AGCO has been gathering feedback as it looks to potentially place a ban on the use of athletes, entertainers and the like in online gambling ads.
The main purpose of this would be to negate the impact of gambling ads on vulnerable groups including children; industry stakeholders and organizations have always been keen to show a commitment to protecting younger people, and this latest proposal would go a long way to help proving it.
These latest fines meted out to operators – although still alleged at this point – are likely to further fuel the arguments of those that demand increased protection for children and vulnerable groups.