Unibet Fined by Ontario Regulators for Allegedly Violating Ad Standards

Posted on: August 25, 2022, 11:19h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2022, 11:51h.

On Thursday, Unibet became the latest operator reprimanded by Ontario officials for violating the Canadian province’s regulations on gaming advertising.

A Unibet promotion released in April when the Kindred Group brand launched in the Canadian province. On Thursday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario fined Unibet CAD$48,000 over allegations it violated the commission’s advertising standards regarding promotions and inducements. (Image: Unibet)

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced Thursday it fined the brand, owned by Kindred Group, CAD$48,000 (US$37,078) for offering inducements. The regulator accused Unibet of violating the province’s ban on promoting bonuses and other incentives in general advertisements.

No additional information or explanation was given in the release.

Such promotions are allowed on operator sites and through direct marketing efforts to players after they have given their consent.

The alleged ads, promoting what AGCO said were “generous welcome offers,” ran from May 19 to May 22.

We expect all registered operators to achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity,” Commission CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham said in a statement. “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.”

AGCO noted that Unibet could appeal the fine through a tribunal process independent of the regulator.

Unibet Accepts Responsibility

In a statement, Amanda Brewer, Kindred Group’s country manager for Canada, said that the company “erred in its interpretation of inducement language” as it created ads to promote Unibet in Ontario.

“We regret we were non-compliant with an important AGCO standard, and we will strengthen our internal processes to ensure we stay compliant,” Brewer said. “Kindred always aims to operate with high standards of responsible gambling and player protection, which includes how we market our products to our customers.”

Fourth Operator Fined in Ontario

Unibet is one of 24 operators that offer 39 gaming sites in Canada’s most populous province. It offers online casino and online sports betting through its platform.

The company is also the fourth that has been fined since May for violating AGCO regulations on advertising and inducements.

In May, AGCO announced a CAD$48,000 fine for BetMGM and a CAD$30,000 (US$23,169) fine for PointsBet for alleged violations. Officials accused BetMGM of using Twitter to promote casino bonuses and misleading players by implying their chances of winning go up as they risk more money. PointsBet was accused of posting ads at train stations offering free plays.

Then, in June, DraftKings was fined CAD$100,000 (US$77,244) for allegedly offering odds boosts through commercials shown on television and through social media posts.

In its statement, AGCO said the standards regarding advertising and promotions are intended to protect the public and promote responsible gambling practices.

Last year, as the Canadian government legalized single-game sports betting, Ontario officials were working on a plan to formally regulate iGaming in the province. Regulated online gaming officially launched in the province in April.

Unibet launched in the province on April 4, the first day for operators to go live there.

Unibet Also in the US

In addition to Ontario, Unibet is currently licensed to operate in six US states. It offers sports betting in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Two years ago, Kindred signed an agreement with Penn National Gaming (now Penn Entertainment) to get access rights in Illinois and Ohio. Per a search of the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s (OCCC) website, Unibet has yet to apply for a mobile sports betting license in that state, where sports betting will launch on Jan. 1.

Unibet could still apply for a mobile license in Ohio. But at this point, it would not be guaranteed to start on the universal launch date for sports betting. It’s likely to be a very crowded field in Ohio, where 25 providers have already applied for online licenses.