After suspicious activity on a title fight

Ontario regulator halts wagering on World Boxing Association events amid match-fixing concerns

Reading time 1:48 min

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has directed all Ontario-registered sportsbook operators to stop offering and accepting wagers on World Boxing Association (WBA) events, effective immediately.

As per the regulator, this measure is being taken to protect the Ontario betting public following concerns that WBA-sanctioned boxing matches are not adequately being safeguarded against match-fixing and insider betting.

The AGCO has been conducting a comprehensive review of suspicious wagering activity on a WBA-sanctioned title fight between Yoenis Tellez and Livan Navarro that was held in Orlando, Florida in December last year. 

Suspicious betting patterns on the bout lasting over 5.5 rounds were reported to the AGCO by two registered independent integrity monitors and detected in Ontario by a registered iGaming operator, the regulator said.

Media reports also alleged that Tellez’s Manager placed $110,000 on the match lasting longer than 5.5 rounds at a Florida casino. The bout ended with Tellez knocking out Navarro in the 10th round.

Following an intensive review that included outreach to the WBA, Ontario-registered gaming operators, independent integrity monitors, and regulators in other jurisdictions, the AGCO has concluded that bets related to WBA events do not currently meet the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The AGCO requires all Ontario-registered gaming operators to ensure the sports betting products they offer are on events that are effectively supervised by a sports governing body. At a minimum, the sports governing body must have and enforce codes of conduct that prohibit betting by insiders, it said.

Registered gaming operators were unable to demonstrate to the AGCO that the WBA prohibits betting from insiders, which could include an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers, medical professionals, or others with access to non-public information.

Further, registered gaming operators were unable to demonstrate that the WBA took any action to investigate or enforce the allegations of potential match-fixing and insider wagering, the regulator said.

The AGCO has indicated to registered operators that in order for WBA betting products to be reinstated in Ontario, operators must demonstrate that the WBA effectively supervises its events, thus bringing them into compliance with the Registrar’s Standards.

In December 2022, the AGCO required gaming operators to stop offering bets on UFC events for similar issues related to insider betting safeguards. Within a month, UFC amended its policies and implemented new protocols that allowed the AGCO to reinstate betting on UFC events in the province.

“Ontarians who wish to bet on sporting events need to be confident that those events are fairly run, and that clear integrity safeguards are in place and enforced by an effective sport governing body,” Dr. Karin Schnarr, Registrar and CEO of AGCO, said.

"Knowing the popularity of boxing in Ontario, we look forward to reinstating betting on WBA events once appropriate safeguards against possible match-fixing and insider betting have been confirmed."

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