Regulator tells Ontario sportsbooks to stop taking bets on the World Boxing Association

April 18, 2024 8:23 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
April 18, 2024 8:23 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

It’s been a busy few days on the sports-betting front for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

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Yesterday, the AGCO issued a statement commending the NBA for what they said was the prompt and decisive way they handled the Jontay Porter situation.

Porter, until Wednesday a player signed to the Toronto Raptors, was handed a lifetime suspension by the NBA for insider betting and match fixing after an investigation revealed he had disclosed confidential information to bettors and bet on NBA games himself.

Regulated markets like the one in Ontario require licensed online-gaming companies and independent integrity monitors to actively monitor and report on suspicious betting. The AGCO requires all gaming operators to ensure the sports-betting products they offer to bettors are on events that are effectively supervised by a sport governing body. In the Porter case, the NBA and DraftKings (which reported the suspicious betting involving Porter) raised the red flags.

“The NBA’s action on this matter speaks well of the integrity safeguards and oversight they have in place related to insider betting and match fixing,” the AGCO said in a statement.

Today, it’s the World Boxing Association (WBA), with the AGCO instructing all Ontario-registered sportsbook operators to stop offering and accepting wagers on WBA events, due to concerns that WBA-sanctioned boxing matches aren’t being adequately safeguarded against match fixing and insider betting.

“Ontarians who wish to bet on sporting events need to be confident that those events are fairly run and that clear integrity safeguards are in place and enforced by an effective sport governing body,” said Dr. Karin Schnarr, Registar and CEO, AGCO, in a statement. “Knowing the popularity of boxing in Ontario, we look forward to reinstating betting on WBA events once appropriate safeguards against possible match fixing and insider betting have been confirmed.”

The AGCO said they have been conducting a review of suspicious wagering activity on a WBA-sanctioned title fight between Yoenis Tellez and Livan Navarro held in Florida last December.

The AGCO said in a statement that two independent integrity monitors and a registered igaming operator reported suspicious betting patterns on the fight, which lasted over 5.5 rounds. Media reports alleged that Tellez’s manager placed $110,000 on the fight lasting over 5.5 rounds at a Florida casino. Tellez knocked out Navarro in the 10th round.

After a full investigation, the AGCO said that bets on WBA events do not currently meet the Registrar’s Standards for internet gaming. At a minimum, the AGCO expects a sport governing body to have and enforce codes of conduct that prohibit betting by insiders (that would include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals, and others with access to information that’s not available to the public).

Registered gaming operators were unable to demonstrate to the AGCO that the WBA prohibits betting from insiders.

In December 2022, the AGCO went through a similar situation with the UFC, suspending betting on UFC events over betting integrity concerns. Within a month, UFC amended its policies and implemented new protocols, and betting on UFC events was reinstated in Ontario.