DraftKings Ontario Fined for Advertising Infractions

Every sportsbook in the North American market is incredibly aggressive in marketing. With so many competing brands, commercials, billboards, famous brand representatives, and more are typical advertising approaches.

At the same time, each state in America and province in Canada has its own advertising regulations. Several Ontario sports betting apps have been penalized for breaking advertising regulations. The biggest of those brands, DraftKings, was fined $100,000 for advertising infractions.

DraftKings Ontario Advertising Infractions

AGCO, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, has served DraftKings with multiple fines totaling $100,000 for rules broken in reference to the Provinces Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming. The fines were because of one main rule that authorities say DraftKings broke.

Standard 2.05 states restrictions on sportsbooks advertising bonuses or credits anywhere other than their website or mobile app. DraftKings aired ads stating a 2:1 odds boost promotion via tv and social media.

“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,” AGCO Chief Executive Officer and Registrar Tom Mungham said. “It is in the public interest that we ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards.”

Ontario Advertising and Marketing Rules

Ontario is relatively strict about what type of marketing can be done, primarily via social media, tv, radio, etc. A few critical points to advertising rules for sports betting operators are:

  •  No language is directed toward a primarily minor-aged audience.
  • Any sports betting ads must also include information about responsible gaming.
  • Advertising cannot misrepresent products.
  • Portions of all gross gaming revenue must go towards responsible gaming advertising.
  • Advertising messaging must make an effort to only appeal to Ontario and not other areas. 

DraftKings is not Alone

The stricter than normal marketing rules in Ontario are not only affecting DraftKings. BetMGM and PointsBet are other big-name sports betting operators that have been fined.

Earlier this year, BetMGM and PointsBet were penalized for infractions by AGCO. The two operators were fined for different reasons from one another, potentially pointing to the difficulties operators are having adjusting to the stricter Ontario market.

BetMGM Infractions and Fine

BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook was penalized for several tweets it sent between April 4 and April 11 of this year. These tweets resulted in a fine of $48,00 and were labeled to be breaking Standard 2.04 and 2.05 of AGCO’s gaming regulations.

Standard 2.04 states, “all operator marketing, advertising, and promotions must be truthful, not mislead players or misrepresent products. This includes requiring that materials not imply that changes of winning increase the more one spends.”

PointsBet Infractions and Fine

PointsBet Ontario Sportsbook was fined for posters that were on GO trains. They were placed on GO trains between April 4 and April 21. The posters broke the rule of standard 2.05. Operators can only advertise bonuses or credits directly on their website or mobile apps, not in a direct-to-consumer method. The fines in this instance were $30,000.

It will be interesting to see how many of these major sportsbook operators adjust to the stricter regulations in Ontario. Many of these brands are accustomed to a more relaxed American environment. DraftKings and its competitors will have to adjust their current marketing playbooks to avoid further fines in Ontario while still attracting new users in a new market.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

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