ban on UFC over integrity issues - 3rd January 2016
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Cameron Houston, Rania Spooner, Chris Vedelago
Holly Holm knocks down champ Ronda Rousey in UFC 193
at Etihad Stadium. Photo: Darrian Traynor
Victoria's gambling regulator banned Tabcorp from
taking bets on the recent UFC cage fighting event
in Melbourne, amid warnings by law enforcement agencies
that the sport was vulnerable to corruption and money
laundering by organised criminals.
was the first time the Victorian Commission for Gambling
and Liquor Regulation had refused an official request
to allow punting on a sports event and delivered a
strong rebuke to the UFC, which ranks as one of the
world's most valuable and powerful sporting franchises.
commission spokeswoman confirmed it had prevented
Tabcorp from taking bets on any fights at UFC 193
in November, which attracted a record crowd of 56,000
at Etihad Stadium and a massive global television
event featured the much-anticipated title bout between
world champ Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, which saw
Holm cause a stunning upset with a second-round knockout.
determining the application the VCGLR formed a view
that UFC does not have appropriate policies or measures
in place as required by Victoria's gambling laws,"
a spokeswoman said.
executive vice-president Tom Wright told Fairfax Media
he was baffled by the regulator's decision and said
the organisation had a series of robust integrity
measures in place.
Wright said the UFC's global compliance unit dealt
with "each and every complaint", while all
competitors were required to sign a code of conduct
that was strictly enforced. He said the organisation
had staged 40 events in five continents over the past
year without a hint of corruption.
While the Victorian gambling commission refused an
application by Tabcorp, it has been powerless to stop
offshore and interstate gaming operators, which have
aggressively targeted the popular combat sport despite
serious integrity concerns.
Victoria Police spokeswoman said the Sporting Integrity
Intelligence Unit was established in 2013 to identify
criminal behaviour and match-fixing in Australian
sports, but confirmed that mixed martial arts was
exposed to a heightened risk.
sport where there are two people competing against
each other and where a betting agency is taking bets,
is open to corruption. The risk of corruption increases
where the betting agency operates offshore and is
not under the regulatory environment of the VCGLR,"
the spokeswoman said.
the existing laws, Tabcorp is the only betting agency
controlled by the Victorian gambling commission because
it is licensed in Victoria.
interstate and offshore gaming companies are able
to flout local gambling regulations, which are now
the focus of a parliamentary review by former NSW
premier Barry O'Farrell.
firm Ladbrokes launched an aggressive expansion into
Victoria, after the Andrews government legalised cage
fighting events in March 2015, which are now staged
on a monthly basis across the state.
Ladbrokes is understood to have lost more than $100,000
on a series of "multi bets" placed on different
combat sport events in Melbourne.
Sydney-based syndicate is understood to have been
behind the plunge, which prompted Ladbrokes to reconsider
its foray into Victoria and cancel several sponsorship
agreements with local promoters.
Queensland head office did not respond to a request
recently employed former fighter Julian Gallin to
recruit punters at cage-fighting events around Melbourne.
It is understood that Mr Gallin was paid a commission
for each new account opened with Ladbrokes and openly
promoted the firm on social media.
month, Mr Gallin was arrested and charged over his
alleged involvement in a major cocaine trafficking
ring that made more than 2000 drug deals from an Elwood
apartment while under police surveillance.
which is based in Darwin, has also pursued Victorian
boxing and mixed-martial arts events in a bid to sign
up new punters for its online gambling site.
champion boxer turned promoter Barry Michael has actively
spruiked the site on social media, but could have
contravened Victorian regulations by recently offering
an inducement to open a CrownBet account.
December 3, Mr Michael sent an SMS message to boxing
fans offering $600 in bonus bets once they had deposited
$400 in a CrownBet account.
you've joined and made your deposit, text me your
CrownBet username and I'll arrange the Bonus Bets
to be credited to your account," Mr Michael said
in an SMS message.
Victorian gambling commission spokeswoman said it
was making further inquiries with CrownBet regarding
the offer and was unable to comment further.
Eaton, head of sports integrity at the International
Centre for Sports Security, said it was unlikely the
Victorian gaming commission had taken such a strong
stance against wagering on cage fighting without solid
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. And the Victorian regulator is recognised
globally for efficiency and effectiveness," Mr