Hard Rock Casino Ottawa fined for 36 regulatory violations including marketing to problem gamblers

Hard Rock Casino Ottawa is alleged to have sent advertising and marketing material to people who had opted into a program known as self-exclusion, designed to help problem gamblers stay away from the casino

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Ottawa’s major casino operator has been fined $227,250 by the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission for a series of alleged regulatory violations.

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An audit by the Registrar of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) uncovered what it says are 36 violations of the province’s gaming standards at the Rideau Carleton Casino.

Its operator, Hard Rock Casino Ottawa, is alleged to have sent advertising and marketing material to people who had opted into a program known as self-exclusion, designed to help problem gamblers stay away from the casino.

AGCO’s audit also alleges that Hard Rock Casino Ottawa repeatedly failed to implement or enforce policies to deter money laundering, and “failed to sufficiently protect gaming systems and data from security vulnerabilities.”

It’s also alleged the operator failed to ensure its staff completed training on important issues, such as how to prevent money laundering.

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“The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has the mandate and the responsibility to ensure casinos are operating with honesty, integrity and in the public interest,” Tom Mungham, AGCO’s chief executive officer and registrar, said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

“These penalties are intended to drive the improvements needed at the Rideau Carleton Casino,” he said.

Helen MacMillan, general manager of the Rideau Carleton Casino, said Wednesday the organization “takes this matter extremely seriously.”

“We have been in regular communication with the AGCO and have been working actively and definitively to address all issues,” MacMillan said in statement.

“The majority of issues related to the audit have been aggressively corrected, including and not limited to, change in personnel. We will continue to improve and address any and all regulatory issues to ensure full compliance moving forward.” 

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Mungham said the agency will be carefully monitoring the casino operator’s actions to ensure the audit’s findings are addressed.

Hard Rock Casino Ottawa assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Rideau Carleton Casino in 2017.

Open 24-hours a day all year round, the casino features more than 1,200 slot machines and is home to electronic tables games, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps.

City council has already approved Hard Rock’s plan for a sizable expansion of the casino, and the addition of an eight-storey hotel, a 1,600-seat theatre and more than 4,000-square metres of new restaurants.

A spokesman for the province’s alcohol and gaming commission said Hard Rock Casino Ottawa has until Aug. 3 to file an appeal in the case to the province’s Licence Appeal Tribunal.

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