Ontario residents can wager on the UFC again after the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission announced that regulated sports- and event-betting operators could resume offering wagering and related products on the sport.
On Dec. 1, the AGCO placed a ban on UFC betting over concerns revolving around integrity in the sport, particularly relating to wagering by UFC insiders.
The UFC isn’t exactly doing boffo business on the betting front in Ontario. When asked, a spokesperson from BetRivers ranked the most popular sports for betting, both in the U.S. and Canada: basketball, football, baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis, golf, then UFC/MMA. Of course, UFC events are less frequent than most of the other sports.
On the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s Proline sportsbook platform at the time of the ban, UFC/MMA ranked behind tennis in terms of overall popularity. However, a spokesperson there acknowledged the growth potential in betting on UFC/MMA.
Last week, the UFC announced tighter rules and guidelines in their organization around wagering and hired U.S. Integrity, a third-party sports-monitoring firm (registered with the AGCO) to identify and analyze any suspicious betting activity.
A UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on Nov. 5 revealed suspicious patterns. Last week the UFC told their fighters and teams (coaches, handlers, managers, trainers) that they were prohibited from betting on UFC fights, including via proxies. The UFC also strengthened internal monitoring processes and made it clear that disciplinary action will be taken if these rules are broken.
AGCO rules safeguard the public against odds manipulation, match-fixing, and other sports-betting-integrity issues, the AGCO said in a statement.
The statement also said, “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.”
Said Tom Mungham, registrar and CEO of AGCO, in a statement: “The AGCO is committed to protecting Ontario players and the integrity of its betting market. 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.”