Ontario Sportsbooks Can Take UFC Bets Again After AGCO Lifts Ban

Ontario Sportsbooks Can Take UFC Bets Again After AGCO Lifts Ban
By Mark Keast
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The UFC is back in business with regulated Ontario sportsbooks after the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced that it is lifting a ban on wagering on the mixed martial arts promoter.

On Dec. 1, the AGCO placed a ban on UFC betting over concerns revolving around betting integrity in the sport, particularly relating to wagering by UFC insiders.

The UFC announced new rules governing betting last week. The sanctioning body told their fighters and teams they were prohibited from betting on UFC fights, and UFC made it clear disciplinary action will be taken if these rules are broken.

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UFC Working With U.S. Integrity

The UFC also announced it is now working with U.S. Integrity, a third-party monitoring firm that will identify and analyze any suspicious wagering activity relating to UFC.

Ontario betting apps can again take UFC wagers beginning with the next UFC Fight Night Card, Feb.5 in Las Vegas.

“The AGCO is committed to protecting Ontario players and the integrity of its betting market,” said Tom Mungham, registrar and CEO of the AGCO. “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.”

Legal, regulated wagering on sports and Ontario online casinos launched in April 2022.

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AGCO Addresses Standards For Sports Betting

Added the AGCO in a statement: “Sport and event betting operators must specifically ensure that sporting events they offer bets on are effectively supervised by a governing body which must, at minimum, prescribe rules and enforce codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders. There must also be integrity safeguards in place, which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing and other illicit activities that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”

UFC wagering ranks further down on the popularity list in Ontario. A spokesperson from the OLG said the handle is well below the major sports leagues and sits behind tennis. 

However, UFC events are more sporadic, and the OLG spokesperson acknowledged the growth potential of the sport in tandem with the evolution of the province’s regulated sports betting and casino apps Ontario market.

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NFL Trends Among Ontario Bettors

Anyone who watched the Buffalo Bills lose to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round were blown away by how much the Bengals dominated. The Bills, always a top proposition with those at Ontario sportsbooks, were 5.5-point favorites going in.

The Bills were out of it after the Bengals’ opening TD drive, arguably. 

At BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook, the NFL games were the most bet events in the province this weekend and Bills-Bengals was the most bet game.

At the spread of 5.5, 36% of bets and 26% of the money in Ontario were on the Bills. Cincinnati was a +200 moneyline underdog; 65% of the bets and 68% of the money were on the Bengals (Side note: in the U.S. market, 81% of the moneyline bets and 59% of the money was wagered on the Bengals). 

So there were fewer bets in Ontario on the Bengals to win the game outright — speaking to the emotional connection Ontarians have with the Bills.

At FanDuel Ontario Sportsbook, Bills-Bengals was the second most popular game of the day after 49ers-Cowboys. A spokesperson there said that was a surprise to them considering the Bills’ relevance in the Ontario market. The moneyline, spread and anytime touchdown player props on the Bills’ game were the top three most bet markets of the day.

The 49ers visit the Philadelphia Eagles and the Bengals play at the Kansas City Chiefs in the conference championship games Sunday.

The Bills-Bengals game was the second most wagered-on Divisional game in Ontario (26.5% of money) and the third most popular (23.5% of tickets) with the BetRivers Ontario Casino. The 49ers-Cowboys was most wagered-on (30.1% money) and second-most popular (23.8% tickets). The Chiefs-Jaguars game was the third most wagered-on (23.1%) and the most popular (33.9%).

The Bills to cover was the fifth most wagered on spread play and the sixth most popular by tickets.

Stay with OntarioBets for information and reviews of Ontario online slots as well as the latest on sports betting in the province.

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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.