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Report: Betting ban issued for UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm over corruption fears

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The Victorian gambling regulator forbade Tabcorp from taking bets on UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm in Melbourne, citing "integrity issues".

Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 193 produced 2015's widely proclaimed "Upset of the Year", as Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick to cap off a scintillating performance to win herself the UFC women's bantamweight title. Less than a week out from the fight, Holm was in the +1000 range, but a late push led to an average line in the +580 area.

But if you had planned on placing bets through Australian gambling giant Tabcorp, you were out of luck. In a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation banned Tabcorp from accepting bets on UFC 193. The potential for corruption and match-fixing were the primary concerns, as the article notes:

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.

"In 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.

[...]

UFC 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.

Mr 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.

Tabcorp is based in Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, making it the only betting agency that the local gambling commission controls.

According to Victoria police, MMA was "exposed to a heightened risk" of match-fixing and criminal behavior in Australian sports. In 2013, a sports integrity unit was formed after an Australian Crime Commission report on sports corruption and 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 risk of corruption increases where the betting agency operates offshore and is not under the regulatory environment of the VCGLR," the spokeswoman said.

It was only less than a year ago that the Victorian government voted to lift the ban on cage-fighting; at the time, MMA was legal in the region but only in a ring. The allowance of cages paved the way for UFC 193 to be held in Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, where the promotion set a new attendance record of 56,214.

This year, the UFC will return to Australia in March 2016 for a Fight Night event in Brisbane, which is located in Queensland.