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Ontario shuts down betting on all UFC events effective immediately

In a blow to the fledgling sports betting industry in the province, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued a shocking decree on Thursday, eliminating all casino, lottery and igaming operators to immediately cease offering and accepting wagers on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events.

The AGCO cites "concerns about non-compliance" with its betting integrity requirements. A press release from the provincial organization specifically references its Registrar's Standards "to safeguard against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other sports betting integrity issues."

To qualify for sports betting under the AGCO's standards, events must be "effectively supervised by a sport governing body" that enforces rules and codes of conduct such as restricting insiders from placing bets.

But the AGCO is claiming that contrary to 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."

Recent accounts and high-profile media reports of suspicious betting activity in the mixed-martial arts league, including alleged insider betting, have led the AGCO to immediately cease all UFC betting in the province, a step the organization says is a matter of public interest.

Only once remedial steps have been taken will the AGCO allow operators to resume accepting bets on UFC events, including "information demonstrating that UFC bets or betting products meet the Registrar's Standards."

"The Standards exist to protect the betting public and to provide the necessary safeguards against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other integrity issues," said Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO, AGCO.

"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. It certainly is to us."

"We will continue to work with gaming operators, the OLG, iGaming Ontario and UFC to ensure that wagering on UFC events meets the AGCO’s Standards."

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