The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) handed out fines for three iGaming operators within the state, as reported during the board’s latest meeting on March 22.

The board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) presented three consent agreements regarding violations at Barstool Sportsbook and two others in the PA online casino industry.

The PGCB approved the agreements and issued a total of $60,000 in fines.

Bartsool Sportsbook software error allowed excluded players to gamble

Five individuals using the online Barstool Sportsbook were able to access their accounts and place wagers after voluntarily enrolling in the board’s online self-exclusion program.

The PGCB fined Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, who operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Barstool Sportsbook in PA, $45,000.

Online sportsbook operators are required to “refuse wagers from and deny gaming privileges and benefits” to anyone on the iGaming self-exclusion list, according to a PGCB press release.

Based on company reps who spoke at the meeting, the failure in protocols at Barstool Sportsbook resulted from a programming error. One player who was able to place wagers while on the self-exclusion list reported the issue to the PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gaming.

The report prompted an internal audit from Hollywood Casino. This found four others who were also able to game while on the self-exclusion list due to the same error.

An update to the system fixed the error. Since then, the operator has also transitioned to its own proprietary platform for self-exclusions to streamline the process. This helps prevent gaps in enforcement and also responds more efficiently should any of them occur.

UniBet Casino fined for a ‘cooling-off’ failure

Mohegan Pennsylvania’s parent company, Downs Racing, L.P., along with its online casino partner, Unibet Interactive, Inc., were jointly fined $7,500 for a similar infraction. The company failed to suspend an account for an individual who requested a 90-day cool-off period offered by the online casino. The individual continued gaming activity for 21 more days before Unibet finally suspended their account.

According to the OEC’s presentation at the meeting, UniBet immediately conducted a thorough internal review upon notification of the incident.

Unibet reps at the meeting said the company reimbursed the player for deposits made during that period and also optimized some of the wording regarding responsible gambling to improve customer clarity. In addition, UniBet also made some administrative changes to prevent any gaps in the self-exclusion process in the future.

UniBet also shared that they generate a daily list to identify potential players who might benefit from responsible gaming interventions. The operator noted that the cooling-off period is currently its second most utilized responsible gambling tool. It mentioned that there were currently 1,532 active “cool-offs” being utilized by players on the site.

A non-licensed Evolution dealer leads a game of blackjack

In addition, Evolution US, LLC, which holds an iGaming manufacturer license in PA, was fined $7,500 for allowing an unlicensed employee to deal several games of blackjack in its live dealer gaming studio.

According to the OEC’s presentation and Evolution company reps, the incident was the result of a miscommunication with a new employee on his first day on the job.

Industry safeguards promoted during Problem Gaming Awareness Month

With March designated as Problem Gaming Awareness Month, numerous entities including BetMGM Casino, the PA Lottery and the PGCB have promoted their expanded efforts to curtail problem gaming this month.

The PGCB’s current regulations require each operator to provide an assortment of responsible gaming tools for its players. Those include:

  • Time limits
  • Deposit limits
  • Spend limits
  • Wager limits
  • Cooling-off periods
  • Contest limits for daily fantasy
  • Reality checks (alerts that make you aware of gaming time)

Self-exclusions, such as the 90-day cool-off periods, have proven to be key responsible gambling tools. Many players, like the 1,532 cited by UniBet, are benefiting from those options.

In fact, there were a total of 2,077 self-exclusions statewide in the first six months of 2022, which was on pace to set a new record. In contrast, the entire year of 2021 only produced 2,891 self-exclusions.

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