AGCO updates operators on advertising and marketing guidelines

The AGCO has updated its advertising and marketing guidelines for operators in the Canadian province’s newly launched igaming market.
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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has updated its advertising and marketing guidelines for operators in the Canadian province’s newly launched igaming market.

Online sports betting and igaming went live in Ontario earlier this month on April 4, and several operators have since launched in the market including PointsBet, theScore, BetMGM, FanDuel, Caesars, and Rush Street Interactive.

The AGCO provided important information and guidance for advertising and marketing to the igaming industry before the province’s market launched on March 16.

In response to applicant and registrant queries, the commission has offered further transparency regarding Standard 2.05 of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, which came into effect on April 4.

Within its ‘Inducements, Bonuses, and Credits’ section, the AGCO notes that “public advertising of inducements, bonuses and credits is strictly prohibited, including targeted advertising and algorithm-based ads” no matter if they are advertised directly or indirectly.

Explaining an inducement, the commission adds that this includes “any offer that may persuade or encourage a person to participate, or to participate frequently, in any gaming activity” with some examples being “sign-up offers, deposit offers, offers of a reward, bonus or “boosted” odds, refund/stake-back offers, multi-bet offers, or winnings paid on losing bets”.

In terms of advertising, indirect inducement advertising “includes, but is not limited to, the display of promotional codes and/or general references that invite individuals or the general public to learn more about inducements on the gaming site”.

The standard also applies to whether “the inducements are real or perceived, based on what players could expect from viewing the advertisement”.

Advertising covered includes “communication of the inducement, whether verbal, written, or otherwise, regardless of the chosen communication channel (including, among other things, links and descriptions provided by affiliates referenced in standard 1.21, player referrals, internet search engine results, chat rooms)”.

In terms of advertising on the gaming site, the AGCO notes that offers may be displayed once a player visits an operator’s gaming site or app, and that offers may also be delivered via “direct marketing to individuals that have first consented, on the gaming site, to receive them”. 

Additionally, consent “must be obtained from players on a registered Ontario gaming site” and any permission obtained elsewhere or before the market opened does not meet the standard.

Displayed inducement, bonus and credit offers must declare “all material conditions and limitations at the offer’s first presentation” to give players the information they need before they make a decision on the offer.

The AGCO has also noted that offers can’t be called “free or risk-free if the player actually needs to risk their own money or incur a loss to qualify”.