AGCO Halts Ontario Sports Betting on UFC Over Integrity Concerns

AGCO Halts Ontario Sports Betting on UFC Over Integrity Concerns
By Mark Keast
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Somewhere, we’re betting Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White is none too pleased.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario today announced that regulated Ontario sports betting operators can no longer offer and accept UFC bets because of betting integrity concerns.

The Registrar’s Standards include rules to safeguard bettors against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other sports betting integrity issues.

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AGCO’s Issues With UFC

According to a release from the AGCO:

  • “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; and
  • “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 AGCO said the UFC does not prohibit all insiders from betting on UFC events, which is contrary to the provincial standard on Ontario betting apps and at physical sportsbooks.

“Insiders” include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals and other people with access to “non-public information,” according to the release.

Sports betting and Ontario online casinos launched in April. Sportsbooks had been taking UFC wagers legally from that time.

The AGCO said it has learned of publicized allegations regarding incidents of betting by UFC insiders as well as what they say have been reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions.

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Reaction From AGCO Registrar and CEO

“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, AGCO Registrar and CEO, said in the statement. “This is not a decision we take lightly, knowing the popularity of UFC events in Ontario’s sportsbooks.

“However, the risks of insider betting on event and wagering integrity should be highly concerning to all. 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.”

No mention was made of any other mixed martial arts organizations, including Bellator.

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Mark Keast

Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.