Canadian Province Bans Betting on UFC Fights, Citing “Possible Betting by UFC Insiders”

UFC Ottawa
UFC Ottawa screen Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

The Canadian Province of Ontario has banned all betting on UFC fights, issuing a release on Thursday instructing gaming operators in the region to cease taking UFC bets.

The move is the latest fallout from the well-publicized shift in betting behaviour in the hours before Darrick Minner’s fight with Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on November 5. That in turn has seen Minner’s coach, James Krause, in the hot seat, as his fighter fell to a leg injury early in the match-up.

Betting ahead of the bout had seen Nuerdanbieke already the favourite, but the odds became even more pronounced in the hours before the fight began, with a large amount of bets placed on Nuerdanbieke to win inside the first round. The aforementioned Krause is a well-known betting enthusiast who hosted both a betting Discord and Youtube Channel, both of which were recently deleted.

In Wednesday’s announcement, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) stated that “Contrary to the Registrar’s Standards, the UFC does not prohibit all insiders from betting on UFC events, which could include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals, or other persons with access to non-public information.”

“In recent weeks, the AGCO has learned of publicized alleged incidents, including possible betting by UFC insiders, as well as reports of suspicious betting patterns in other jurisdictions.”

While UFC fighters had previously been allowed to bet on fights other than their own, or to bet on themselves to win, in October, the promotion announced that UFC athletes and their teammates and other confidants were no longer allowed to do so. The shift in policy, per UFC President Dana White at the UFC 280 post-fight press conference, came because “gambling is opening up everywhere in every state, and the people who regulate gambling don’t think it’s a good idea for fighters to be betting on themselves. And I agree.”

The AGCO did not clarify as to whether they were aware of the new policy, or had found it lacking. A phone number listed as a media point of contact referred callers to an e-mail address. The organization did not respond to a request for comment by Cageside Press prior to deadline.

The UFC, in conjunction with their betting integrity partner, Don Best Sports, has been investigating the Minner fight. U.S. Integrity had also been looking into the shift in odds, which saw Minner go from a +170 to +330 underdog in the hours before the bout.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement previously announced a ban on all bets related to any fight involving James Krause, including as a “coach, trainer, promoter or fighter.”

In Ontario, meanwhile, the AGCO told betting operators in the province that “once the necessary remedial steps have been taken, they may provide information demonstrating that UFC bets or betting products meet the Registrar’s Standards.”

Among the regulatory body’s requirements are that “There are integrity safeguards in place which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing, cheat-at-play, and other illicit activity that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”