It was a long wait, but thankfully for Ontario sports bettors and MMA fans in particular, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has allowed UFC events back into the Ontario sports betting mix just over six weeks after a UFC integrity scandal forced the governing body to outlaw UFC betting in Ontario.
It’s huge news not only for Ontario sports bettors, but also for sportsbooks operating in Ontario as well. Ontario betting sites had been missing out on a ton of potential revenue since the AGCO removed the UFC from their approved sports betting menu on December 1st, 2022. Considering how much the UFC has embraced sports betting and how significantly it has incorporated odds and betting into their broadcasts over the past few years, the return of the MMA promotion to the approved menu is very welcome news for Ontario sportsbooks.
The AGCO declared the return of UFC betting to Ontario through an official announcement on January 19th. The announcement also included a press release from AGCO Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham that can be read below.
“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.”
What Has The UFC Changed To Appease The AGCO?
As part of their press release, the AGCO referenced an announcement that the UFC and US Integrity made which outlined the changes they have made to their policies and procedures. These changes are what allowed the AGCO to return the UFC to their approved sports betting menu. Some of these changes include:
- Amending their Athlete Conduct policy to prohibit athletes and insiders from placing any bets either directly or indirectly on any UFC match, including betting on themselves.
- These prohibitions now also apply to coaches, managers, handlers, trainers, and other people affiliated with either the athlete or the UFC. Violations may now result in disciplinary action against related contract athletes.
- Committing to enhanced monitoring and action against insider betting.
- Expecting contracted athletes to report anything that might raise such integrity concerns.
- Committing to a betting integrity monitoring relationship with US Integrity, which is an independent monitor registered and approved by the AGCO, to identify any unusual betting activity that could point to possible integrity issues.
Why Did The AGCO Remove UFC Events From The Approved Menu In The First Place?
UFC events were originally removed from the docket by the AGCO because of a growing integrity scandal that stemmed from a fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on November 5th. In the lead up to the bout Minner failed to disclose an injury, leading to bets on Nuerdanbieke and the fight to last under 2.5 rounds coming in at an unusual pace. This led to an investigation in Nevada which the FBI has been a part of, per ESPN.
MMA coach James Krause has been banned from the UFC for his perceived role in the integrity issues due to his strong ties to MMA betting, including Discord and YouTube channels that he ran which were focused on sports betting. ESPN also reported that Krause had also worked as an agent for an offshore sportsbook.
In December, UFC president Dana White said the irregular betting activity was a “huge concern.” It seems this new partnership with US Integrity is already addressing some of those concerns well enough for the AGCO to lift its UFC ban and reopen the gates to UFC betting for Ontarians.