Punters who bet on a mixed martial arts event that was billed as a live stream last Friday found their accounts under review over the weekend after an integrity checker flagged a suspicious betting activity and that the League of Professional Fighters said the fights had in fact taken place a week earlier.
FuboTV promoted Friday’s broadcast of the PFL Challenger Series live at 9 p.m. ET, and the PFL tweeted Friday night that “fighters are in the building for TONIGHT.” The odds on the Challenger Series moved significantly in favor of each of the winning fighters on Friday afternoon before the broadcast.
On Saturday, US Integrity, a Las Vegas-based company that monitors betting markets, sent out an alert to sportsbooks saying it had confirmed with the PFL that the fights had been pre-taped on March 25.
“As such, it is very possible that any potentially suspicious betting activity is indicative of nefarious behavior,” US Integrity wrote in the alert, obtained by ESPN, and recommended that sportsbooks that offered bets on the event notify state regulators.
Sportsbooks contacted by ESPN said they are looking into the matter and some books have not settled bets on the event while they look into what happened. The Arizona Department of Gaming is removing PFL from its betting catalog, the state’s Events and Fantasy Sports Betting Administrator told ESPN in an email. The Colorado Gaming Division said it was investigating the matter, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the New Hampshire Lottery said they were aware of the situation. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement declined to comment.
In a statement to ESPN on Monday, PFL spokesperson Loren Mack said Friday’s broadcast was the first time in its history that an initial broadcast of an event was pre-recorded, but he didn’t. specified why.
“All sportsbooks that have taken bets on the pre-recorded program have done so without the consent or knowledge of the PFL,” Mack wrote in an email, adding that the PFL will “evaluate the matter further.” According to a PFL statement included in the US Integrity alert, the league “has entered into confidentiality agreements with everyone involved.”
Mack also wrote that the “PFL did not include any betting lines, content or promotions relating to the program”. But the league posted several teases about the event on Twitter, including a tweet Friday night that posted photos of fighters in the octagon and said “check out the office tonight,” and directed people to the link. broadcasting on fuboTV.
— fuboTV (@fuboTV) April 1, 2022
On the same day, fuboTV’s Twitter account also promoted the event as taking place that evening: “TONIGHT PFL Challenger Series brings you its pro debut!” Catch all the action LIVE at 9pm ET wherever you can stream @fubosports #PFLonfuboTV.
“The PFL Challenger Series is typically broadcast live on Fubo Sports Network,” Jennifer Press, senior vice president of communications for fuboTV, told ESPN. “The April 1st event was the only exception and pre-recorded. We inadvertently used the same promotional copy for the April 1st show as for previous shows, which was a mistake. We regret the mistake. “
At Bet365 sportsbook, heavyweight Rakim Talley went from -290 to a massive -2,500 favorite over Santino Zurita. Talley won by unanimous decision. The odds have also moved significantly in favor of Andrija Stankovic, Alexei Pergande, Christian Turner and Daeri Alderman. These four fighters also won.
Matthew Holt, president of US Integrity, said the company could not reveal details of an ongoing investigation.
“Our goal, as always, is to notify the industry as quickly as possible of any potentially harmful, abnormal or suspicious activity so that they can act as quickly as possible,” Holt said.
Some bettors thought the event was going live on Friday and wondered on social media why they weren’t being paid for bets on winning fighters.
Punter Kyle Miller of Virginia told ESPN that “100%” the event was promoted as live. He said earlier in the week that someone mentioned on social media that the fights were pre-taped, but Miller said he checked, searched social media and the league’s website, and didn’t. had found no evidence of this. On Tuesday, the PFL site listed the April 1 event as pre-recorded.
Miller said odds were advertised for events through legitimate betting sites, bets were taken and the event was promoted as taking place on Friday, so he ignored the suggestion that the fights had already taken place. and placed a four-legged parlay with BetMGM. He said he won around $200 on the bet. He said he did not know the results of the fights before they aired.
“The bets I placed won. They all won,” Miller said. “Money was in my account…everything was fine. Then I log in [Sunday] to place more bets on the UFC this week, and that money is gone.”
Miller, operator of a site offering MMA betting reviews and advice, said he opened an online grievance with BetMGM and was told his account was under review. He said he kept the amount he originally wagered but not his winnings, and he said on Monday he was still awaiting a response from BetMGM customer service.
Sportsbooks typically rely on odds providers to create the betting lines on events such as PFL, which are automated in the platforms. BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook declined to comment on the issue when contacted by ESPN.
A spokesperson for DraftKings said in a statement to ESPN that it offers odds on the event in multiple states. “At the time, we believed the event in question was live. After noticing unusual activity on a number of fights, DraftKings removed the markets [on its own accord]”, according to the release. “We are working with regulators to determine the appropriate course of action.”
Gaming regulatory consultant Karl Bennison, former head of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s enforcement division, wrote in an email that he could not recall a similar situation involving a misrepresentation. apparent of an event date, noting that there had been periodic instances of sportsbooks making a mistake and entering information, such as an event’s start times, incorrectly.
“In general, the licensed sports betting operator is held responsible by the gaming regulator for knowing the events and cut-off times for bets offered and is prohibited from knowingly accepting bets published by the past,” he wrote. “There may or may not be law enforcement issues with respect to a given post past incident – it depends on the facts surrounding the incident and the applicable law in the relevant jurisdiction.”