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Ontario Prohibits UFC Bets Over Integrity Concerns

Ontario’s regulated gaming operators will no longer offer wagering on Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, says the province. On Thursday, December 1, 2022, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario issued a statement in which it required all registered casino, lottery and gaming operators to stop offering and accepting wagers on UFC.

The AGCO is responsible for overseeing all lawful gambling operations in the province of Ontario, including the newly introduced iGaming market. Its decision to ban UFC betting comes after the regulator heard of recent alleged incidents involving potential betting from UFC insiders, as well as some reports about suspicious betting patterns in some jurisdictions.

Non-Compliance Concerns

In November, U.S. Integrity, which is a wagering protection and integrity organization, launched an investigation after several online sportsbooks informed of suspicious wagering activity on a November 5, 2022 featherweight match between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke. This led to the AGCO stopping UFC wagers in the province due to concerns about non-compliance with betting integrity protocols.

Ontario has a strict framework for wagering standards, which include safeguards against odds manipulation, match-fixing, and other related issues. In its press release, the AGCO emphasizes that sporting events must be effectively supervised by a sport governing body, that must determine final rules while also enforcing codes of conduct that should forbid insiders from wagering on it.

Tom Mungham, the registrar and CEO of the Ontario gaming regulated, commented that AGCO’s decision was not an easy one, considering the popularity of UFC matches in Ontario’s sports betting landscape. But in his words, the risks of insider wagering on events and wagering integrity should be highly alarming for the whole industry.

Additionally, Mr. Mungham promises that the regulator will keep on working with gaming operators, the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, iGaming Ontario, and UFC to ensure that betting on UFC events corresponds to AGCO Standards. Lastly, the commission says that when necessary remedial steps have been taken, operators in the province will renew UFC betting.

Looking for Input

At the end of October, AGCO issued a discussion paper which seeks to collect investor feedback on potential regulatory risks correlated with promotional partnerships in the province. Some of its inquiries from the regulator to the stakeholders include what types of promotional or other offline activities, which fall short of creating a traditional retail gaming site, would be of concern or create risks.

The AGCO takes its responsibility of being a gambling watchdog very seriously, and its efforts have not been left unnoticed. In October, at the International Association of Gaming Regulators conference, the AGCO has been recognized for its iGaming framework and received the award for Regulatory Excellence. Ontario’s sector is the first of its kind in the Great White North.

Source: “Province orders Ontario gaming operators to stop offering UFC betsCBC News, December 1, 2022