In April, Ontario opened its doors to the iGaming sector, introducing online sports betting practices to the province. It was another huge win for the expansion of sports betting markets in North America, but it hasn’t been without its issues. For instance, in the last day, Ontario-based betting regulators issued a ban on all UFC-focused gambling, effective immediately. Reportedly, this ban was issued ‘due to non-compliance with AGCO’s betting integrity requirements’.
The AGCO is the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, a body that was key in introducing sports betting practices to the region in the first place. Now, according to a release, the AGCO has taken strict measures to restrict UFC betting in Ontario, as allegedly, there aren’t strict enough anti-match-fixing measures inherently present within the UFC.
Don’t Take The Chance
On October 18th, it was reportedly revealed by the UFC that it had issued a blanket ban that would prevent its fighters and their teams from betting on any UFC matches. However, that wasn’t enough for the AGCO, and recognising the potential for match-fixing and insider betting, it opted to take the fully preventative measure of banning all UFC betting inside Ontario.
In a statement, Tom Mungham, the CEO of AGCO, expressed exactly why the broad betting ban was issued:
‘The Standards exist to protect the betting public and to provide the necessary safeguards against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other integrity issues. This is not a decision we take lightly, knowing the popularity of UFC events in Ontario’s sports books. However, the risks of insider betting on event and wagering integrity should be highly concerning to all.’
This isn’t the end of all things, though. It was clearly stated in the AGCO release that work would be carried out with the intention of ultimately re-introducing UFC betting markets to Ontario. Now, a period of intense scrutiny opens up, with regulators closely examining the UFC for any suspicious behaviour or problematic betting patterns. It’s believed that, if the right boxes are ticked, the markets will certainly open up again in due course.
Since the Ontario sports betting market opened up earlier this year, things have admittedly gone from strength to strength. It was just weeks ago that BetMGM, one of the biggest operators in North America, deployed NHL-themed games throughout the province. There’s currently a lot of work going on throughout North America to legitimise betting, although it is opening up on a state-by-state basis at the moment.
Ontario is an industry-leading example for Canada, and despite this minor setback, the general market remains strong.