A pre-taped MMA fight advertised as a live event led to suspicious betting activity from players who already knew the results. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Results already decided
A pre-recorded mixed martial arts (MMA) event billed as a live stream has led an integrity body to report suspicious betting activity.
announced its Challenger Series event on Friday night as a live event
On Friday night, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced its Challenger Series event as a live event, as did TV streaming service fuboTV via Twitter:
According to ESPN, odds on MMA fights “moved significantly” on the Friday afternoon before the event aired in favor of all winning fighters. The suspicious odds in question are best exemplified by MMA heavyweight Rakim Talley. The fighter’s odds have gone from -290 to a huge favorite of -2500 via Bet365. Talley won, as did other fighters who saw the odds change dramatically in their favor.
On Saturday, Las Vegas-based betting market watchdog US Integrity alerted sportsbooks that it had confirmed the fights had been pre-taped on March 25. He warned sportsbooks that it was “highly possible that any potentially suspicious betting activity could be a sign of nefarious behavior”.
Falsely mediated live
A PFL statement released on Monday said Friday’s fights marked the first time the league had broadcast a pre-recorded event. PFL spokesman Loren Mack confirmed that “all sportsbooks that took bets on the pre-recorded program did so without the consent or knowledge of the PFL”.
the PFL aired several announcements ahead of Friday’s broadcast
In his emailed statement, Mack wrote that his body “did not include any betting lines, content or promotions” related to the Challenger Series event. However, the PFL aired several announcements ahead of Friday’s broadcast. One tweet even featured pictures of fighters in the octagon, with the PFL using the future tense to say they were ‘checking the office tonight’. The PFL also directed viewers to the broadcast link on fuboTV.
In defense, fuboTV senior vice president Jennifer Press said ESPN that his company “inadvertently used the same promotional copy for the April 1 show that we did for previous shows, which was a mistake. We regret the mistake.
Several sportsbooks are said to be investigating the situation, with some delaying settlement of bets until they can carry out a review.
DraftKings claimed it believed the Challenger Series event was live. The bookmaker’s spokesperson said it acted independently and halted markets after seeing unusual activity around several fights. The operator is “working with regulators to determine the appropriate course of action.”
Benefits for the PFL
US Integrity recommended operators who took bets on the MMA event alert state regulators. That said, President Matthew Holt said the body could not release details of the ongoing investigation.
The reaction of various state regulators does not bode well for the PFL. According to ESPN, the Arizona Department of Gaming is removing PFL from its betting catalog. Meanwhile, the Colorado Division of Gaming is investigating the matter. The Nevada Gaming Control Board and the New Hampshire Lottery said they were both “aware of the situation.”