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AGCO Issues Penalties to Fallsview Casino Operator for Anti-Money Laundering Violations

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The Registrar of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued an Order of Monetary Penalty totaling $70,000 to MGE Niagara Entertainment Inc., the registered operator of Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls Ontario, for failing to meet requirements in place to minimize the risk of unlawful activity, including money laundering, at the gaming site.

In April 2023, a patron attended the Salon Privé at the Fallsview Casino Resort and presented $80,000 in strapped $100 bills from a reusable grocery bag. Surveillance showed that once the money was counted and confirmed, the patron left the table with casino chips without playing at that time. Despite having previously identified the player as “high risk,” the casino failed to notify the AGCO and on-site police of this transaction as required. The casino operator also failed to take any meaningful steps to ascertain and corroborate the patron’s source of funds, as is required by anti-money laundering rules set out in the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming.

The prevention of unlawful activities at Ontario’s gaming sites is a key priority for the AGCO. Casino operators have an important role to play and must take steps to effectively identify and prevent criminal activity from occurring on their gaming sites. Among the regulatory requirements casino operators must meet, the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming (the Standards) require operators to report suspicious behaviours and to validate a patron’s source of funds when presented with significant amounts of bulk cash.

The AGCO, along with the Ontario Provincial Police bureau attached to it, continue to focus on the safety and security of gaming in Ontario and actively monitor all Ontario gaming sites for compliance with the Standards.

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A registered gaming operator served with an Order of Monetary Penalty by the AGCO has the right to appeal the Registrar’s action to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.

“The AGCO is committed to protecting the public interest and public safety and remains vigilant in its efforts to guard against potential money laundering at Ontario’s gaming sites. Casino operators are important front-line partners in this effort and the AGCO holds all operators to rigorous standards when it comes to the prevention of unlawful activity,” Dr. Karin Schnarr, CEO and Registrar of AGCO, said.

AGCO

Swintt games approved for release in Ontario

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In-demand software provider receives AGCO approval to operate in the regulated province, bringing full suite of games to Canadian players for the very first time

Swintt, the EGR award-winning software provider famed for its classically-themed Premium releases and state-of-the-art Select slots, has announced it has received permission to operate in Ontario, meaning its full suite of games will now available to AGCO-licensed platforms.

Having unveiled ambitious plans to expand into further regulated markets at the start of 2024, Swintt’s portfolio is now certified in eleven countries including Malta, Germany and the Netherlands, but this latest approval represents the company’s maiden entry into North America.

This means that not only will Ontarian players now be able to enjoy popular SwinttGames releases like the fan favourite slot Aloha Spirit XtraLockTM, but also newer upcoming games from Elysium Studios – Driven by Swintt.

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The product of Swintt’s acquisition of Elysium Studios earlier this year, the collaboration has resulted in a new line-up of releases being added to the software provider’s roster, with these games combing immersive themes and features with the very latest in slot design and graphics.

Tipsy Charms, the first game in the Elysium Studios – Driven by Swintt line-up, has already launched to great effect – and with the Mesopotamian-themed adventure, Law of Gilgamesh, scheduled for May 30th, there’s plenty for Ontarian players to look forward to in the coming weeks.

With all this and more on the horizon for the province in the second half of 2024, everyone at Swintt is excited about entering the regulated Canadian market for the first time and the company has high hopes that the approval will further underline its credentials as a leading global provider.

David Mann, Chief Executive Officer at Swintt, said: “Swintt is delighted to have received AGCO approval for its games in Ontario and we’re very excited to now have the chance to take this new and dynamic market by storm. Being certified to launch in Ontario is definitely a huge step for the company that will enable us to showcase our brand to new audiences on the global stage.”

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AGCO Requires Ontario Gaming Operators to Stop Offering WBA Bets Due to Integrity Concerns

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has mandated all Ontario-registered sportsbook operators to halt offering and accepting wagers on World Boxing Association (WBA) events immediately. This measure is being taken to protect the Ontario betting public following concerns that WBA-sanctioned boxing matches are not adequately being safeguarded against match-fixing and insider betting.

Since December 2023, the AGCO has been conducting a comprehensive review of suspicious wagering activity on a WBA-sanctioned title fight between Yoenis Tellez and Livan Navarro that was held in Orlando, Florida. Suspicious betting patterns on the bout lasting over 5.5 rounds were reported to the AGCO by two registered independent integrity monitors and detected in Ontario by a registered igaming operator. Media reports also alleged that Tellez’s Manager placed $110,000 on the match lasting longer than 5.5 rounds at a Florida casino. The bout ended with Tellez knocking out Navarro in the 10th round.

Following an intensive review that included outreach to the WBA, Ontario-registered gaming operators, independent integrity monitors, and regulators in other jurisdictions, the AGCO has concluded that bets related to WBA events do not currently meet the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The AGCO requires all Ontario-registered gaming operators to ensure the sport betting products they offer are on events that are effectively supervised by a sport governing body. At a minimum, the sport governing body must have and enforce codes of conduct that prohibit betting by insiders.

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Registered gaming operators were unable to demonstrate to the AGCO that the WBA prohibits betting from insiders, which could include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals, or others with access to non-public information. Further, registered gaming operators were unable to demonstrate that the WBA took any action to investigate or enforce the allegations of potential match-fixing and insider wagering.

The AGCO has indicated to registered operators that in order for WBA betting products to be reinstated in Ontario, operators must demonstrate that the WBA effectively supervises its events, thus bringing them into compliance with the Registrar’s Standards. In December 2022, the AGCO required gaming operators to stop offering bets on UFC events for similar issues related to insider betting safeguards. Within a month, UFC amended its policies and implemented new protocols that allowed the AGCO to reinstate betting on UFC events in the province.

“Ontarians who wish to bet on sporting events need to be confident that those events are fairly run, and that clear integrity safeguards are in place and enforced by an effective sport governing body. Knowing the popularity of boxing in Ontario, we look forward to reinstating betting on WBA events once appropriate safeguards against possible match-fixing and insider betting have been confirmed,” Dr. Karin Schnarr, Registrar and CEO of AGCO, said.

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Over 86% of Ontario’s online gamblers play on regulated sites: Study

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Two years into Ontario’s open, regulated internet gaming (igaming) market, a new study commissioned by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario has found that the vast majority of people participating in igaming in the province are doing so on regulated sites. This represents a significant change from the estimated 70 per cent of online gambling that occurred on unregulated sites before the Government of Ontario established a safer, competitive, and regulated open market for Ontarians in April 2022.

According to an Ipsos study conducted in February 2024, 86.4% of Ontarians who gambled online over the preceding three months gambled on regulated sites. This represents an increase from the 85.3% of igaming participants who reported playing on regulated sites on a similar study conducted in 2023.

In 2022, the Government of Ontario worked with the AGCO and iGaming Ontario to launch an open igaming market that allows eligible private gaming operators, registered with the AGCO and under contract with iGO, to participate in Ontario’s legal gaming market. There are currently 47 registered operators offering 77 regulated sites to Ontarians.

However, despite this significant choice, the study found that a notable portion of Ontario’s igaming participants continue to wager on unregulated sites. The study found that 20.1% of those who had gambled online over the prior three months wagered on a combination of regulated and unregulated sites, while 13.6% did all their betting on unregulated sites. Participants named over 350 unregulated websites they have used, which highlights how many illicit betting options can be accessed by Ontarians and the importance of continued efforts to shift players to Ontario’s safer and legal gaming options.

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“Since its launch in April 2022, Ontario’s igaming model has been recognized internationally for championing work to displace the unregulated online gaming market,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “This made-in-Ontario, regulated market will continue to inspire global innovation, while ensuring a safer landscape for players and businesses alike.” – Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario

“In Ontario, regulated sites are held to high standards of game integrity, data security and player protections, including having significant responsible gaming safeguards. While it’s encouraging to see most participants are choosing regulated gaming options, those who are not are unfortunately risking far more than their wagers.” – Dr. Karin Schnarr, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, AGCO

“iGaming Ontario joins our operators, government, and AGCO in celebrating our success in attracting Ontarians to the safer, regulated igaming market. We will continue to work in lockstep with the AGCO to enable Ontarians to play with confidence.” – Martha Otton, Executive Director, iGaming Ontario

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