Ontario bans UFC betting over integrity concerns

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Betting on the UFC has been banned at Ontario sportsbooks due to integrity concerns.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on Thursday ordered registered entities to stop offering and accepting wagering on the UFC “due to non-compliance with AGCO’s betting integrity requirements”

The AGCO, which oversees the regulated gaming industry in Ontario, requires sports governing bodies to enforce codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders and to have sufficient integrity safeguards in place to mitigate the risk of match-fixing.

The AGCO said in a release announcing the decision that the “UFC does not prohibit all insiders from betting on UFC events, which could include an athlete’s coach, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals or other persons with access to non-public information.” ESPN has reached out to the UFC for comment.

The UFC announced on Oct. 18 that fighters and their teams were prohibited from wagering on UFC fights. In a memo, UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell wrote that the edict came “in light of clear direction that we have received from regulators responsible for the regulated sports betting industry in the United States.” He noted in the memo that in some states it is illegal for fighters and teams to bet on events with which they are affiliated.

The AGCO said in the release that recent publicized incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders and reported suspicious betting patterns on matches, led to the decision to prohibit operators from offering betting on the UFC.

“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, registrar and CEO of AGCO, said in the release. “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 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.”

A UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on Nov. 5 attracted suspicious betting patterns and has been under investigation by multiple bodies. Multiple sportsbooks reported receiving unusual betting interest on Neurdanbieke to win by knockout in the first round and for the fight to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. The odds on the fight moved dramatically in the hours leading up to the featherweight bout in Las Vegas, with Neurdanbieke moving from a -220 favorite to a -420 favorite.

Just 30 seconds into the fight, Minner threw a left kick to Nuerdanbieke’s body and immediately grimaced and reached for his left leg. Nuerdanbieke closed in and Minner went for another left body kick before Nuerdanbieke dropped Minner with a knee to the head and finished on the ground with elbows. The TKO stoppage came at 1:07 of the first round.

The Nevada State Athletic Association is planning to take disciplinary action against Minner for “non-disclosure on his pre-fight medical form” during a Dec. 14 meeting, according to executive director of the NSAC Jeff Mullen.

Minner’s coach for the Nuerdanbieke fight, James Krause, also has been under scrutiny by gaming regulators. On Nov. 19, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement notified the state’s licensed sportsbook that they were no longer allowed to offer betting on any fight Krause was involved with, “including as a coach, trainer, promotor or fighter.”

“This applies to UFC matches and any other sporting events [Krause] may be involved in,” the bulletin to New Jersey sportsbooks, which was obtained by ESPN, stated.

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