World Boxing Association betting suspended in Ontario by regulator

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is requiring all registered gaming operators who offer sports betting to stop accepting wagers on World Boxing Association events.

The regulator says it has concerns that WBA-sanctioned boxing matches don't have adequate safeguards in place to protect against match fixing and insider betting.

The AGCO has been reviewing what it calls "suspicious wagering activity" on a December title fight in Florida between Yoenis Tellez and Livan Navarro.

The regulator says two independent integrity monitors and an Ontario registered iGaming operator detected "suspicious betting patterns" and some media reports alleged that Tellez's manager placed a $110,000 bet on the match lasting longer than 5 1/2 rounds.

The AGCO says following its review, it has concluded that WBA events don't currently meet the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, but it will be reinstated if AGCO-regulated operators can demonstrate the WBA effectively supervises its events.

In December 2022, the AGCO required operators to stop offering bets on Ultimate Fighting Championship events over similar insider better concerns, and within a month the UFC implemented new protocols that led to AGCO reinstating betting in the province.

Registrar and CEO Karin Schnarr said the AGCO wants to work co-operatively with the WBA, Ontario operators and integrity monitors to have WBA events reinstated.

"We don't take this kind of action very often and so when we do, it really, I think, signals the seriousness of this kind of situation," Schnarr said.

"We have a regulated and an open gaming market here in Ontario and I want people to be confident that if they're placing a bet in any sports game that is offered by our operators, that they have confidence that it's going to be a fair match that they're betting on."

A day earlier, the NBA announced that it had banned a former Toronto Raptors backup centre for life after an investigation into gambling allegations. The league found that Jontay Porter violated its rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, limiting his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and betting on NBA games.

The AGCO is not taking the same step with the NBA as it has with the WBA.

Schnarr said that all of the registered gaming operators in the province must ensure the games they allow people to place bets on are effectively supervised by a sport governing body, which has to have and enforce codes of conduct that prohibit betting by insiders.

"The NBA demonstrated how seriously they take matters related to game integrity by promptly and decisively acting on a serious case of alleged insider betting and match-fixing," she said in a follow-up statement.

"By contrast, unlike most other sport governing bodies, the WBA’s Code of Ethics does not explicitly prohibit betting by insiders. Additionally, there is no evidence the WBA has made efforts to enforce its Code in relation to this incident."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2024.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press