After nearly two months, UFC events are back on the menu for Ontario sports betting.
On Thursday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced ON sports betting operators could resume taking bets on UFC events. The AGCO pulled UFC betting from its approved menu Dec. 1 as the MMA promoter struggled with a growing integrity scandal.
“The AGCO is committed to protecting Ontario players and the integrity of its betting market,” AGCO Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham said in a release. “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.”
UFC takes steps to satisfy Ontario sports betting regulator
The AGCO said the UFC announced five specific policy changes that helped the promoter return to Ontario sports betting.
In October, the UFC amended its Athlete Conduct Policy to prohibit fighters and insiders from betting on any UFC matches. To better satisfy the AGCO, the UFC further clarified those prohibitions extend to coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers and others associated with the athletes or the company.
Other policy updates include:
- Provided assurances for enhanced monitoring and action against insider betting.
- Reiterated an expectation that contracted athletes report any matters that could raise integrity concerns.
- Entered a deal with US Integrity, an integrity monitoring firm registered with the AGCO.
Deepening UFC betting issues
The trouble with the UFC began with the Nov. 5 fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke, when Minner failed to disclose an injury, and suspicious bets poured in on Nuerdanbieke and for the bout to last fewer than 2.5 rounds. The fight is under investigation for suspicious betting activity in Nevada. ESPN previously reported the FBI is part of the investigations.
MMA coach James Krause is at the center of the integrity issues, and in December, the UFC has banned working with Krause. A former MMA fighter, Krause is a known sports bettor and ran Discord and YouTube channels focused on sports betting. Multiple fighters connected to Krause are getting pulled into the broader investigation.
Last week, ESPN reported Krause worked as a sports betting agent for an offshore sportsbook. One of the main goals of Canada sports betting legalization in 2021 was to ensure a safe and well-regulated sports betting industry.
When the AGCO announced it pulled UFC events in December, a spokesperson said it would work closely with UFC to address the regulator’s concerns. UFC President Dana White said in December the suspicious activity is a “huge concern.”
US Integrity plays key role in investigation, reinstatement
Thursday’s announcement from the UFC that preceded the AGCO announcement was largely unveiling its deal with US Integrity. The Las Vegas-based firm was already investigating the UFC integrity issues because of concerns brought up by its sportsbook clients.
“US Integrity will help us strengthen our existing best practices by applying their expertise in data intelligence to proactively identify irregular bout-level wagering patterns,” UFC EVP and General Counsel Riché McKnight said in the release. “This information can inform UFC’s response and can be preemptively shared with sports books, who can make informed decisions as to whether or not halt betting on a particular bout.”