UFC Sports Betting Concerns Continue as AGCO Bans Bets In The Province

Lineups logoEight months after the launch of sports betting and iGaming in Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is requiring all registered operators stop offering and accepting wagers on UFC, effective immediately. 

The sudden change is due to “concerns about non-compliance and AGCO’s betting integrity requirements.” 

According to AGCO Registrar’s Standards For Internet Gaming, sports betting operators must ensure that all bettors and their wagers meet the following criteria:

  • “For sporting events being bet on, the event must be effectively supervised by a sport governing body which must, at minimum, prescribe final rules and enforces codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders (not applicable to novelty bets)”
  • “There are integrity safeguards in place which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing, cheat-at-play, and other illicit activity that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”

“The Standards exist to protect the betting public and to provide the necessary safeguards against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other integrity issues,” Tom Mungham, CEO of AGCO said in the press release.

Per the press release, the AGCO has learned of alleged betting by UFC insiders, which could include coaches, athletic trainers, managers, handlers, medical professionals, or anyone else that has access to non-public information regarding the UFC. As a result, they’ve prohibited all UFC bets in the province across all licensed operators.

“This is not a decision we take lightly, knowing the popularity of UFC events in Ontario’s sports books. However, the risks of insider betting on events and wagering integrity should be highly concerning to all. It certainly is to us,” Mungham added. “We will continue to work with gaming operators, the OLG, iGaming Ontario and UFCto ensure that wagering on UFC events meets the AGCO’s Standards.”

AGCO has specified that once “remedial steps” have been taken to address these incidents, the commission would consider reevaluating UFC bets and betting products in Ontario, provided that they meet the Registrar Standards.

UFC Updated Policy

This is not the first time this year that UFC insider betting has been addressed. On Oct. 17, Chief Business Officer of the UFC Hunter Campbell, sent a letter to its athletes and their teams explaining an update to the organization’s code of conduct policy surrounding sports betting.

“Athletes are prohibited from placing any wagers (directly or through a third party) on any UFC match, including placing any wagers on themselves,” the new code of conduct policy reads. “In most states with legalized sports betting, wagering by an athlete (directly or through a third party) on any MMA match put on by a promoter with which they are affiliated is illegal and may result in criminal sanction.

Nov. 5 Fight Investigation

Despite the updated policy, on Nov. 5, several U.S. sports betting operators across several states reported “suspicious” betting activity on the UFC featherweight bout between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Neurdanbieke.

The odds on Neurdanbieke moved dramatically in the hours leading up to the fight, with large bets pouring in for Neurdanbieke to win by knockout in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. More suspicion was raised when those specific bets continued, despite significantly less attractive odds as the fight neared closer.

Sure enough, the TKO stoppage, at the hand of Neurdanbieke, came at 1:07 in the first round of the fight.

Sportsbooks then contacted the U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based firm that works with operators and regulators to monitor the sports betting market and instances such as this. The U.S. Integrity conducted a thorough analysis of the situation, though they cannot reveal details of the investigation.

The UFC responded to the situation via a statement to ESPN. “Our betting integrity partner, Don Best Sports, a leading global supplier of real-time betting data for North American sporting events, will conduct a thorough review of the facts and report its findings,” the UFC statement read. “At this time, we have no reason to believe either of the athletes involved in the bout, or anyone associated with their teams, behaved in an unethical or irresponsible manner.”

Mia Fowler is a graduate of Chapman University where she studied business marketing and journalism and played on the women’s soccer team. Following her 16-year journey with soccer, she started writing for Lineups.com. She specifically enjoys analysis of the NFL.

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