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Ontario Regulators Stop Betting On World Boxing Association (WBA) Events Due To Integrity Concerns

James Murphy
by in Boxing on
  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has instructed licensed sportsbooks to not accept bets on World Boxing Association (WBA) events.
  • The AGCO has serious integrity concerns about WBA sanctioned events.
  • This is the second fight sanctioning body to experience this enforcement following the UFC in 2022.

The World Boxing Association (WBA) faces significant regulatory pressure as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued a directive to all licensed betting operators in the province to cease offering bets on WBA events. This decision comes after concerns were raised about the integrity of WBA-sanctioned matches, particularly involving potential match-fixing and insider betting.

The AGCO’s move follows an investigation into a WBA title fight between Yoenis Tellez and Livan Navarro held in Orlando, Florida, in December 2023. Suspicious betting patterns were observed, particularly regarding bets that the fight would last over 5.5 rounds. Compounding the suspicion, media reports surfaced alleging that Tellez’s manager wagered CA$110,000 on the fight exceeding 5.5 rounds. The fight concluded in the 10th round with Tellez’s victory.

In its statement, the AGCO expressed concerns about the WBA’s ability to safeguard its events from corruption, noting that Ontario’s gaming operators could not prove that the WBA prohibits insider betting or took any measures to investigate or enforce the integrity of its matches. According to AGCO’s standards, sports governing bodies must have and enforce codes of conduct that prevent betting by insiders to ensure the events are suitable for betting.

Karin Schnarr, registrar and chief executive of the AGCO, emphasized the importance of integrity in sports events available for betting: “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.”

The AGCO’s decision could serve as a wake-up call for the WBA, similar to the situation with the UFC in December 2022. After similar actions by the AGCO, the UFC amended its policies and implemented new protocols to tackle insider betting and match-fixing, resulting in the reinstatement of betting on its events within a month. The AGCO has expressed its willingness to reconsider its stance on WBA events if the association can implement and verify effective integrity safeguards to prevent match-fixing and insider betting. This situation underscores the increasing scrutiny on sports organizations to maintain high standards of integrity to remain eligible for sports betting markets.

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