The regulator of sports betting in Alberta has dropped a week-old ban on wagering on the Ultimate Fighting Championship after the organization announced a ban of its own, although Ontario is still holding out.
A spokesperson for Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) said Friday that they have reinstated UFC betting. This followed the UFC announcing on December 2 that fighters coached by James Krause will be prohibited from participating in its mixed martial arts events pending the outcome of a Nevada State Athletic Commission investigation.
Nevada regulators said Krause’s license had been suspended on November 18, in the wake of a match involving a Krause-coached fighter that allegedly attracted suspicious betting patterns. Integrity concerns then led AGLC to suspend betting on the organization’s events on its Play Alberta sportsbook.
Those concerns have eased, leading the regulator to reinstate UFC betting markets on Play Alberta.
“Protecting consumers in Alberta is of the utmost importance to AGLC,” the agency said on Friday. “We will remain vigilant in monitoring the situation and ensure players continue to have safe and secure gaming opportunities on Play Alberta.”
However, while Alberta is ready to allow UFC betting again, its ban and reinstatement affected just one platform. In Ontario, where there is a regulated iGaming market with multiple operators of online sports betting sites, the regulator’s ban on UFC betting has affected far more players.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) also banned UFC betting before its Alberta counterpart, but it is not ready to budge yet.
“The AGCO is aware of UFC's statement last week, and is encouraged by their commitment to integrity,” the agency told Covers on Friday. “Protecting the betting public by providing the necessary safeguards against the risk of insider betting on event and wagering integrity is a high priority to the AGCO. We recognize the recent steps taken and are committed to engaging with Ontario’s gaming industry, UFC, the OLG, and iGaming Ontario to ensure that the UFC has the necessary betting integrity framework in place, in particular relating to wagering by UFC insiders.”
Ontario remains a notable holdout when it comes to the UFC betting ban. While Alberta has now reversed its prohibition, other Canadian provinces didn’t ban UFC betting at all, including British Columbia and Quebec.
For its part, the UFC has stressed its focus on the integrity of the sport. The organization said in its December 2 statement that it had sent a formal notice to all fighters and their team members — weeks before the controversial fight — that they and other “insiders” were banned from wagering on UFC events.
“This was an extension of UFC’s pre-existing (and since updated) fighter Code of Conduct as well as a recognition of various state, federal, and international laws and regulations expressly prohibiting conduct that threatens the integrity of the sport including, but not limited to, insider betting based on non-public information, fight-fixing, and other such misconduct,” the UFC said. “UFC will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure compliance with and enforcement of its policies and those of the jurisdictions in which it operates.”