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. Ontario regulators levied fines totaling $100,000 CAD (about $74,170 USD) this month against Apollo Entertainment for “multiple alleged violations” of the province’s responsible gambling standards.
The fines, believed to be the largest issued so far this year by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), were issued following allegations that Apollo ran afoul of five of its Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.
In a statement, AGCO highlighted one incident where a player lost more than $2 million in less than four months without receiving any required interventions from Apollo during that timeframe.
The AGCO added that Apollo had failed to implement an adequate voluntary self-exclusion program, had provided insufficient responsible gambling tools for players (like loss and deposit limits), and had not trained their employees on the importance of responsible gambling.
The regulator indicated that the last shortcoming likely meant that Apollo employees were not providing assistance to players possibly experiencing gambling-related harms.
The AGCO’s goal is to ensure Ontarians can enjoy online gambling on sites that operate fairly, responsibly, and provide important player protections. “The AGCO’s goal is to ensure Ontarians can enjoy online gambling on sites that operate fairly, responsibly, and provide important player protections,” said Tom Mungham, who serves as CEO and registrar for the regulator.
“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.”
Apollo operates seven online casino skins in Ontario — Captain Cooks Casino, Casino Classic, Golden Tiger Casino, Grand Mondial Casino, Luxury Casino, Yukon Gold Casino, and Zodiac Casino.
Self-Exclusion Program Allegedly Fell Short
According to AGCO, Apollo allegedly violated Standards 2.01, 2.11, 2.12, 2.14, and 2.23.
Standard 2.01 called for Apollo to “implement and follow policies and procedures to identify, prevent, and minimize the risks of harm from gaming to players,” while Standard 2.11 required the operator to “systematically provide assistance to players who may be experiencing harms from gaming and implement interventions that are tailored to the severity of situations where players may be experiencing harm.”
The regulator alleged Apollo fell short in both areas.
Additionally, Standard 2.12 requires an operator to “ensure that employees understand the importance of responsible gambling and are adequately trained to respond appropriately to, and assist, players who may be experiencing harm from gambling.”
Under Standard 2.14, an operator is required to “provide a voluntary self-exclusion mechanism that is well promoted, easily accessible, efficient, and support oriented.” The registrar also expects operators to ensure that players know the self-exclusion program’s terms and conditions, including how to safely return to playing.
AGCO also alleged that Apollo had failed to “ensure that players are provided with an easy and obvious way to set gaming limits (financial and time-based) upon registration and at any time after registration,” thereby running afoul of Standard 2.23.
Other Fines in 2023 Were Smaller
The regulator said Apollo had the right to appeal the registrar’s actions to the License Appeal Tribunal but suggested that the operator may have already decided against taking that step.
“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 regulator said.
The $100,000 fine is more than triple the $30,000 penalty it issued to Mobile Incorporated Limited, aka Mobinc, in April. AGCO also slapped LeoVegas Gaming with a $25,000 fine, and Bunchberry Limited got hit with a $15,000 charge. All three are alleged to have violated the registrar’s gaming integrity standards by offering uncertified slots to players.