On Jan. 19, roughly a month and a half after the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) terminated all betting on UFC fights in the province, the UFC updated its wagering policies, and the AGCO reinstated betting on UFC in the province.
AGCO & UFC Background
On Dec. 1, the AGCO announced that they would no longer offer or accept wagers on UFC fights due to “concerns about non-compliance and AGCO’s betting integrity requirements.”
The commission revealed that they had reason to believe that UFC insiders (coaches, trainers, managers, etc.) were wagering on fights. This directly contradicts the AGCO Registrar’s Standards For Internet Gaming.
Per their standards, “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 enforce codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders.”
In the Dec. 1 press release, the AGCO stated that once “remedial steps” have been taken, they would reevaluate the situation.
The fighters are in the building – 30 minutes to the final faceoffs!
— UFC (@ufc) January 20, 2023
UFC and U.S. Integrity Take Remedial Step
“Throughout this process, we have had productive discussions with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to address the concerns AGCO expressed to their operators,” said Riché T. McKnight, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of UFC.
The UFC Athlete Conduct Policy, which was updated in October, now includes direct prohibitions against any UFC athlete placing wagers on any UFC match. They also updated the definition of the so-called “UFC Insiders” to make clear that “these same prohibitions against wagering apply to an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, and other individuals affiliated with the athletes or UFC.”
U.S. Integrity will strengthen these new safeguards by monitoring, identifying, and analyzing all wagering activity on UFC events.
“U.S. Integrity will help us strengthen our existing best practices by applying their expertise in data intelligence to proactively identify irregular bout-level wagering patterns,” McKnight said. “This information can inform UFC’s response and can be preemptively shared with sports books, who can make informed decisions as to whether or not halt betting on a particular bout.”
The agreement takes effect immediately and will remain in effect through 2023 on all UFC events, including the Dana White Contender Series.
AGCO Reinstates UFC
Given the changes that the UFC implemented, the AGCO lifted the ban on UFC wagers.
“The Registrar is satisfied that the betting integrity concerns raised have now been addressed and is therefore permitting registered gaming operators to resume offering UFC-related bets,” the press release wrote.
But the UFC is not out of the woods yet, as there are surrounding issues in other areas with UFC betting. “The AGCO is aware of ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions and will be monitoring the outcome and actions related to those investigations.”
Don't miss today's events, Rio! https://t.co/N14QUXk3zp
— UFC (@ufc) January 20, 2023
UFC Integrity Issues Are Multiplying
The first issue came on Nov. 5, when sportsbooks across several states reported “suspicious” betting activity on the UFC featherweight bout between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Neurdanbieke. Minner failed to report an injury and bets poured in for Neurdanbieke to win in the first round.
U.S. Integrity was investigating the suspicions and consequentially released Minner from the organization and suspended the license of his coach, James Krause. They announced that fighters who choose to continue fighting or training under Krause will not be permitted at UFC events, pending the investigation.
It was reported this week that Krause has worked as a sports betting agent for a Costa Rica- based offshore sportsbook, ABCbetting.ag, according to people that wagered with him as far back as 2019.
It is unclear what is next for Krause.