Ontario, Alberta Ban Sportsbooks from Offering Wagers on UFC

Regulators raise concerns that insiders may have bet on UFC matches, despite the organization’s recent changes to its Code of Conduct that ban such wagers.
Ontario, Alberta Ban Sportsbooks from Offering Wagers on UFC
December 07, 2022

In recent weeks, the AGCO has learned of publicized alleged incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders, as well as reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions. Regulators in two Canadian provinces have stepped in to prohibit operators from accepting wagers on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contests because of concerns about betting integrity.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced an immediate ban on all UFC bets on December 1, while the agency Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) told Canadian media that it had followed suit the next day.

Both provincial bans stem from regulators’ concerns over a UFC match in early November. On Friday, UFC confirmed it had been informed of “suspicious betting patterns” on the fight and disclosed that “multiple ongoing government investigations” were still looking into the contest.

AGCO: UFC Violated Its Registrar’s Standards

AGCO said UFC had violated its Registrar’s Standards designed to protect against odds manipulation, match-fixing, and other issues related to the betting integrity of a sport.

The regulator said Ontario's gaming operators must ensure that a sport-governing body like UFC has rules and a code of conduct to prevent betting by insiders. The sport must also have integrity safeguards to sufficiently “mitigate the risk of match-fixing, cheat-at-play, and other illicit activity that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”

But AGCO said UFC doesn’t prohibit insiders — for example, coaches, managers, trainers, medical professionals, handlers, and other persons with information not available to the public — from placing wagers on UFC events.

“In recent weeks, the AGCO has learned of publicized alleged incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders, as well as reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions,” the regulator said.

TSN, a Canadian outlet, reported Friday that sportsbooks in Alberta were also no longer offering wagers on UFC matches.

“As of December 1, AGLC stopped offering and accepting wagers on UFC events due to possible risks of wagering integrity,” AGLC Senior Communications Officer Lynden McBeth told TSN. “Previously placed UFC wagers on PlayAlberta.ca have been voided, and the stake returned to the player.”

UFC appears to dispute the AGCO’s accusation, pointing to a revised Code of Conduct it enacted in October that bans explicitly insiders like the persons mentioned above from placing wagers on UFC events.

Bans Likely Fallout From Match on November 5

While AGCO did not specifically identify any alleged incidents, the regulator was likely moved to act by the fallout that followed a match between UFC fighters Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on November 5.

ESPN writers David Purdum and Marc Raimondi reported on November 6 that US Integrity, a Las Vegas-based betting integrity firm, had launched an investigation after the odds of Nuerdanbieke defeating Minner increased dramatically in the hours before the bout.

The report said a large volume of bets were placed on Nuerdanbieke winning by knockout in the first round and for the entire match to last less than two-and-a-half rounds. Nuerdanbieke would ultimately win the bout via TKO after just 1:07 had elapsed in the first round.

Sportsbooks reportedly grew suspicious of the bout and contacted US Integrity to investigate.

UFC said it has been cooperating with various probes into the fight. It said the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) had informed the organization that Minner’s coach, James Krause, had his license suspended. NSAC said the suspension would continue through its investigation.

“Weeks prior to the Minner fight, the organization sent formal notification to all fighters and members of their teams that they and certain other defined 'insiders’ were prohibited from wagering on UFC events,” the UFC said. The organization also announced that it had released Minner and barred fighters coached by or trained with Krause from further UFC action.

AGCO Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham said the decision to ban wagers on UFC events was not an easy call to make, considering its popularity among Ontario online sportsbooks.

“However, the risks of insider betting on event and wagering integrity should be highly concerning to all,” Mungham said. “It certainly is to us. We will continue to work with gaming operators, the OLG, iGaming Ontario, and UFC to ensure that wagering on UFC events meets the AGCO’s Standards.”

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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