Ontario Commission clarifies strict advertising rules on player bonuses & inducements  

The province of Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (OAGC) has updated its guidance for marketing standards related to its online gambling regime that launched on 4 April. 

The Commission seeks to clarify rules and standards related to the marketing of ‘inducements, bonuses and credits’ by third parties such as affiliates and media partners that promote Ontario licensed operators.

Ontario laws prohibit any ‘public advertising of inducements, bonuses and credits, by operators or media/affiliate publishers, including ‘targeted advertising and algorithm-based adverts’.

Inducements are defined as a promotional offer that encourages a consumer to participate in an online gambling activity, be it through a ‘sign-up offers, deposit offers, offer of a reward, bonus or “boosted” odds, refund/stake-back offers, multi-bet offers, or winnings paid on losing bets’.

The OAGC will penalise marketing partners for promoting inducements regardless of whether they apply a direct or indirect approach to inform consumers of incentives – be it a bonus code/offer (direct) or by providing general references or informative content (indirect).

Only when a consumer visits a licensed operator’s website-or-app can an inducement, bonus or credit offer be promoted.

Licensed operators can inform their players of inducements and bonus offers through direct marketing, as the OAGC declared that consent had been granted by individual customers signing up to the operator’s website or app.  

Operators are reminded that they hold full accountability on advertising standards, in which they must ensure that third parties are compliant with Ontario advertising rules and standards.

The AGCO asserted: “Any “marketing affiliates” that advertise for the Ontario market must not also advertise gaming sites that operate in Ontario without AGCO registration. It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure that the marketing affiliates they work with meet this standard.”

Affiliate marketing boards had branded Ontario’s online gambling launch as chaotic, as operators had provided contrasting information with regards to promoting player inducements/incentives – that had been against OAGC recommendations.

Observing Ontario marketing developments, Canada-based affiliate James D’arcy, webmaster of affiliate community Nodepositbonuscasino.com commented “Clarification and regulation by the commission on what is permitted in the wild-west of casino bonuses is well overdue, this matter should have been clarified ahead of Ontario’s regime launch, instead of being kept in the dark in terms of rules”.

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