Ontario sports betting enthusiasts can bet on Ultimate Fighting Championship events again. On Thursday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario officially ended its two-month ban on betting on the UFC.
The AGCO ordered Ontario online sportsbook operators to stop taking bets on the UFC on Dec. 1. The gaming regulator ruled the mixed martial arts league had failed to meet AGCO betting integrity requirements.
In October 2022, the UFC updated its policies and procedures to prohibit fighters and insiders from betting on any UFC matches. Yet, more recently, the UFC further clarified the ban to extend specifically to coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers and others associated with the athletes or the company.
Also, the UFC signed a deal with US Integrity, an integrity monitoring firm registered with the AGCO.
And, the UFC updated its policies to:
- Provide enhanced monitoring and action against insider betting.
- Stress an expectation that contracted athletes report any matters that could raise integrity concerns.
That seemed to satisfy the AGCO.
“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,” said AGCO CEO Tom Mungham in a press release.
“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.
What caused the AGCO to ban betting on the UFC in the first place?
A questionable fight and an even more questionable coach brought the issue to a head.
On Nov. 5, Darrick Minner took on Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in a featherweight match during the UFC Vegas 64 card. Minner was clearly dealing with a preexisting knee injury and did not disclose his injury before the fight. He lost quickly in the first round.
Yet, many wagers came in on Nuerdanbieke, including wagers that he would win by first-round TKO. Nuerdanbieke had not won by TKO in the nine fights he has had since January 2022. He also had never recorded a TKO while fighting in the UFC.
Minner’s coach, James Krause, became the most controversial figure in the investigation. Until recently, the retired MMA fighter operated a Discord channel called “The 1% Club” where he routinely gave out UFC betting tips. Richter said Krause, who also had a podcast and YouTube channel, openly admitted to betting on fights.
While, technically, not against UFC’s rules at the time, Richter openly promoted his UFC betting acumen. Last week, ESPN reported Krause worked as a sports betting agent for an offshore sportsbook.
The UFC has banned Minner. The FBI is investigating him and the fight in question.
Deal with US Integrity was key to AGCO lifting ban
The UFC announced its deal with US Integrity on Thursday before the AGCO rescinded its ban.
“Throughout this process, we have had productive discussions with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to address the concerns AGCO expressed to their operators,” said Riché T. McKnight, executive vice president and general counsel of UFC in a statement.
“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. 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.”