Ontario iGaming Operator Slapped With Fine for Responsible Gambling Shortcomings

Posted on: August 14, 2023, 08:35h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2023, 12:55h.

An Ontario iGaming operator has been hit with a CA$100,000 (US$74,337) fine for failing to uphold responsible gambling rules relating to online casino operations.

Ontario iGaming Apollo online casino
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has levied a fine against Apollo Entertainment for alleged regulatory shortcomings. The gaming regulator contends the iGaming operator failed to protect players since commencing its operations in 2022. (Image: Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario)

Apollo Entertainment Ltd, a Malta-based group, operates numerous online gaming websites in Ontario. The interactive gaming firm’s platforms include Captain Cooks, Golden Tiger, Grand Mondial, and Yukon Gold.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) last week announced the results of a probe of the licensed iGaming operator. It concluded Apollo Entertainment committed multiple alleged violations of the province’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

Ontario lawmakers in April 2019 voted to end the Ontario Lottery’s iGaming monopoly in favor of fielding bids from outside operators. A regulatory and licensing framework was established in 2020, and the province’s commercial iGaming market went live on April 4, 2022.

Apollo Entertainment is unrelated to Apollo Global Management, the New York-based private equity giant that completed its $1.9 billion takeover of Great Canadian Gaming Entertainment in September 2021.

Alleged Shortcomings

AGCO officials say Apollo’s iGaming websites have allegedly violated multiple regulatory areas since debuting their operations last fall.

Government officials say the Apollo platforms have allegedly failed to intervene with players who may be experiencing gambling-related harms. The agency cited one instance in which an online player lost more than CA$2 million (US$148,536) in less than four months. The player wasn’t contacted by responsible gaming interventionalists, as dictated by the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The AGCO also says Apollo has failed to implement an adequate voluntary self-exclusion program or provide tools to help players set financial and time-base gambling limits. The gaming regulatory also contends that Apollo failed to ensure that their employees understand the importance of responsible play, and why assisting players who might be developing bad behaviors is a critical component to the overall success of the Ontario iGaming industry.

The AGCO’s goal is to ensure Ontarians can enjoy online gambling on sites that operate fairly, responsibly and provide important player protections. All registered operators have an obligation to proactively monitor patron play for signs of high-risk gambling, and must take appropriate actions to intervene and reduce the potential for gambling-related harm,” said Tom Mungham, chief executive officer and registrar of the AGCO.

The AGCO release on the regulatory penalty says the fine was determined in accordance with AGCO guidelines.

Appeal Possible

Under Ontario’s iGaming regulatory environment, Apollo Entertainment can appeal the AGCO’s penalty to the License Appeal Tribunal, which is an adjudicative tribunal independent that’s part of the AGCO and Tribunals Ontario. AGCO brass says the iGaming operator has so far been cooperative and has already begun remedial measures.

Apollo has been responsive to the AGCO’s regulatory findings since being advised of these issues and has already taken significant steps to strengthen the control environment on its sites to address the shortcomings identified by the AGCO,” the AGCO statement read.

Apollo’s iGaming platforms now feature a “Responsible Gaming Policy” listed at the bottom of the websites. The policy stresses the importance of keeping gambling as a form of entertainment and best practices for playing safely.