Provincial regulators said Ontario sports betting operators may resume accepting wagers on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches after the mixed martial arts promoter changed several of its policies and procedures.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced an immediate ban on all UFC wagers on December 1 over concerns on betting integrity.
Specifically, the regulator said a UFC match in early November 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.
Changes Made by UFC
On Thursday, the AGCO said its registrar was satisfied that its betting integrity concern had been addressed after the UFC took several actions, including:
- Amending its athlete conduct policy — the UFC now specifically prohibits all insiders from placing any wagers on a UFC event, either directly or through a third party. That includes UFC fighters placing bets on themselves.
- Emphasizing that a UFC fighter’s coaches, managers, handlers, and athletic trainers are all subject to a ban on wagers. Individuals associated with fighters or the UFC also cannot place bets.
- Providing assurances that the UFC will actively be on the lookout for illegal wagers and will strengthen their internal controls to help take immediate action.
- Reminding fighters are expected to report any potential betting integrity matters to the UFC.
AGCO also lauded UFC for entering into an agreement with US Integrity, an independent sports integrity monitor, to look for unusual wagering activity. The deal with Nevada-based US Integrity was announced and took effect on Thursday — the same day the regulator allowed UFC bets to resume.
“The AGCO is committed to protecting Ontario players and the integrity of its betting market,” said AGCO CEO Tom Mungham, who also serves as the regulator’s registrar.
“With the legalization of single event betting last year, the AGCO created strong new rules to protect bettors in Ontario. We are pleased these rules are already working to strengthen the integrity of sports betting in Ontario and, as a result, of UFC competitions around the world.”
It was unclear if betting on UFC events would be allowed to resume in Alberta. Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) enacted a similar ban on UFC wagers on December 2, 2022. No announcement on UFC wagering was posted to the AGLC’s website as of Friday.
In its directive on Thursday, the AGCO said it was “aware of ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions and will be monitoring the outcome and actions related to those investigations.”
November Fight Likely Caused Suspension
Although the AGCO did not identify a specific incident that caused the nearly two-month suspension of UFC wagering, the regulator was likely moved by fallout from a match between UFC fighters Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on November 5, 2022.
According to a report by ESPN, US Integrity was asked by several sportsbooks to investigate after the odds of Nuerdanbieke defeating Minner increased dramatically in the hours before the bout.
ESPN reported that a large volume of bets was 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 fight through a TKO just 1:07 into the first round.
Minner’s coach, James Krause, had since had his license suspended by the UFC. The UFC also released Minner, and other fighters being coached or trained by Krause were also barred from further UFC action.
Learn more about Ontario sports betting.