November’s UFC 193 headline fight between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm has drawn an incredible amount of media attention, mostly because Rousey, the undefeated champion and heavy favorite, shocked fans when she went down to a KO in the second round. Now, the bout is making headlines again as it’s been revealed Victorian gambling regulators banned Tabcorp from accepting UFC wagers prior to November 15 fight, due to ease of corruption.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) confirmed that it denied Tabcorp’s application to authorize sports betting on UFC 193, which took place at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, attracting some 56,000 fans to the arena and millions more who tuned in to the pay-per-view event worldwide.
“In determining the application,” repudiated a spokeswoman with the gambling regulator, “the VCGLR formed a view that UFC does not have appropriate policies or measures in place as required by Victoria’s gambling laws.”
The rejected application denotes the first time the VCGLR has ever denied a request to provide betting on a sporting event.
UFC Defends its Integrity
Tom Wright, Executive VP of UFC, expressed his mystification by the Australian state’s UFC sports betting ban, insisting that the organisation has set forth a multitude of robust procedures to preserve the integrity of the sport. The UFC’s global compliance unit deals with “each and every complaint”, said Wright, asserting that the organisation strictly enforces the code of conduct agreements that all of their fighters are required to sign.
Furthermore, Wright said that after staging 40 events across five continents in 2015, there have been no indications that any of them suffered corruption in any way, shape or form.
Victoria says UFC Too Vulnerable to Corruption
A spokeswoman with the Victorian authority’s Sporting Intelligence Integrity Unit, formed in 2013 to detect and prevent corruption in sporting events, said one-on-one matchups like UFC fighting are particularly vulnerable to match-fixing.
“Any sport where there are two people competing against each other and where a betting agency is taking bets, is open to corruption,” the spokeswoman said. “The risk of corruption increases where the betting agency operates offshore and is not under the regulatory environment of the VCGLR.”
Tabcorp is currently the only sports betting agency licensed by—and therefore under the control of—Victorian regulators. Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell is concerned by that fact, and is heading up a review of offshore and interstate betting agencies whose jurisdiction enables them to contravene Victorian law.
Sports Books Lost Big on UFC 193
The Holm vs. Rousey match has received no criticism for possible corruption, but the unexpected KO by Holm did cost sportsbooks worldwide an inestimable amount of cash. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook reported odds on Holms shrinking from as high as 14-1 to 8-1 due to heavy wagers on the underdog.
Ladbrokes is said to have lost about $100,000 on the match, while William Hill, who took in 96% of its wagers on Holm, simply admitted, “we definitely came out on the wrong side.” MGM reported having suffered their heaviest loss ever on a UFC sporting event.
Ban on UFC Sports Betting Justified
The Head of Sports Integrity at the International Centre for Sports Security, Chris Eaton, defended the VCGLR for its prohibition against UFC sports betting, stating that regulators would not have taken such a punitive stance against the activity without probable cause.
“It is unlikely a regulatory agency would direct bookmakers not to list a sport without either conclusive betting fraud data or credible insider information from within the sport.” Eaton also noted that, “the Victorian regulator is recognised globally for efficiency and effectiveness.”