The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario recently required operators to stop accepting bets on the UFC.
Citing integrity concerns due to an ongoing investigation, Ontario bettors were unable to wager on the top name in MMA.
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis followed suit in the following days.
UFC betting was still accepted at Michigan sportsbooks, but the Michigan Gaming Control Board was keeping an eye on the UFC’s current issues.
Update: AGCO lifts UFC betting ban
On Jan. 19, the AGCO lifted its ban on UFC betting in the province. Alberta had lifted its ban in previous weeks.
Ontario’s decision to lift the ban came with the announcement that the UFC implemented stricter language about sports wagering in its fighter code of conduct. It also hired U.S. Integrity to monitor sports betting throughout its organization.
The updated language prohibits any UFC fighters from betting on UFC fights themselves or through a proxy. These rules also apply to any “UFC insiders” which include coaches, managers, trainers, or any individual directly affiliated with a fighter.
Why did the AGCO ban UFC betting?
The AGCO has rules to safeguard against odds manipulation and match-fixing.
Operators like the UFC must ensure that:
- 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 UFC didn’t prohibit all insiders from betting on their fights for a period of time. That included athlete’s coaches, managers, trainers, medical professionals and other people with access to non-public information.
Prior to the decision to ban UFC betting, the AGCO became aware of publicized alleged incidents, including potential betting by UFC insiders and suspicious betting patterns.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, knowing the popularity of UFC events in Ontario’s sports books,” said AGCO Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham. “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.”
The AGCO informed the UFC that it would consider accepting wagers on their events once again once the necessary steps have been taken.
Nuerdanbieke-Minner fight leads to betting investigation
The UFC announced on Oct. 18 that all fighters, as well as their teams, were prohibited from wagering on any UFC fights. The MMA organization cited regulators and rules in various states as the reason for the decision.
However, on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas, a fight between featherweights Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Darrick Minner raised suspicions.
Nuerdanbieke was a favorite of -220 approaching fight day. The odds jumped to -420 in the hours approaching the bout.
Multiple sportsbooks reported receiving unusual betting on Nuerdanbieke to win. They also received suspicious bets on Nuerdanbieke to win by first round knockout, as well as the fight going under 2.5 rounds.
The fight ended with a TKO by Nuerdanbieke just 1:07 into the bout. Minner threw an early kick and immediately reached for his leg. Nuerdanbieke then closed in and finished the fight with a knee and elbows on the ground.
The belief is Minner and his team failed to disclose an injury on his pre-fight medical form, knowing he was going in hampered.
The Nevada State Athletic Association pursued disciplinary action against Minner for non-disclosure of his pre-fight medical form. He was eventually suspended by the NSAA. Minner’s coach, James Krause, has had his license suspended by the NSAA pending an investigation into the matter.
Krause has been banned from UFC events going forward. Any fighters that are coached or trained by Krause are also banned until the pending investigation has concluded.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has told its sportsbooks they are no longer allowed to offer betting on any fight associated with Krause.
MGCB monitored UFC situation
Michigan never stopped allowing UFC betting, but the MGCB did take notice of what other organizations were doing.
When asked for comment on the situation, the Michigan Gaming Control Board made a statement that it was “aware of the AGCO decision and they are monitoring the situation closely.”
Currently, the MGCB has approved four different MMA organizations for betting in the states.
- Dana White’s Contender Series
- Bellator Fighting Championships
- One Championship
Betting held for PFL event after fights occurred
This latest UFC situation is not the first MMA betting controversy this year.
The Professional Fighters League put on an event on April 1 that was billed as “live” though it had been taped a week prior on March 25.
Wagers for the PFC Challenger Series event were being taken after the fights actually were held.
FuboTV aired the event on April 1, billing it as a live event at 9 p.m. ET.
Odds for each of the fights moved significantly in favor of the winning fighter in the hours leading up to the broadcast.
Multiple state gaming commissions removed the PFL from their wagering catalog over the incident.
The MGCB does not offer the PFL as part of its MMA betting catalog.