Prerecorded MMA Event Billed as Live Draws Shady Betting Activity

  • The PFL and streaming platform fuboTV both promoted the Friday night fights as live
  • Winning fighter Talley’s odds changed from -290 to -2500 before the broadcast
  • fuboTV said it mistakenly replicated promo copy it had posted for previous live fights
  • US Integrity told sportsbooks to alert state regulators if they took wagers on the bouts
Close-up of MMA fight
A prerecorded MMA fight advertised as a live event has led to suspcicious betting acivity from gamblers who already knew the results. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Results already decided

A prerecorded mixed martial arts (MMA) event billed as a live broadcast has led an integrity body to flag suspicious betting activity.

advertised its Challenger Series event on Friday evening as a live event

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) advertised its Challenger Series event on Friday evening as a live event, as did television streaming service fuboTV via Twitter:

According to ESPN, odds on the MMA bouts “moved significantly” on the Friday afternoon prior to the event’s broadcast in favor of all the winning fighters. The suspicious odds in question are best illustrated by MMA heavyweight Rakim Talley. The fighter’s odds changed from -290 to a huge -2500 favorite via Bet365. Talley won, as did other fighters who saw odds shift significantly in their favor.

On Saturday, Las Vegas-based betting market watchdog US Integrity alerted sportsbooks that it had confirmed the bouts were prerecorded on March 25. It warned sportsbooks it was “very possible that any potentially suspicious wagering activity is indicative of nefarious behavior.”

Misleadingly hyped as live

A PFL statement released on Monday said Friday’s bouts marked the first time the league had broadcast a prerecorded event. PFL spokesperson Loren Mack confirmed that “any sportsbooks that took bets on the prerecorded program did so without the consent or knowledge of the PFL.”

the PFL ran several teaser ads prior to Friday’s broadcast

In his emailed statement, Mack wrote that his body didn’t “include any betting lines, content, or promotion” linked to the Challenger Series event. However, the PFL ran several teaser ads prior to Friday’s broadcast. One tweet even featured photos of fighters in the octagon, with the PFL using the future tense to say it was “checking out tonight’s office.” The PFL also directed viewers to the streaming link on fuboTV.

In defense, fuboTV’s senior vice president Jennifer Press told ESPN that her firm “inadvertently used the same promo copy for the April 1 show as we did for previous shows, which was a mistake. We regret the error.”

Several sportsbooks are supposedly investigating the situation, with some holding off on settling wagers until they can conduct a review.

DraftKings has affirmed that it believed the Challenger Series event was live. The spokesman for the sportsbook said it acted independently and stopped the markets after seeing unusual activity around several fights. The operator is “working with regulatory bodies to determine the appropriate course of action.”

Fallout for PFL

US Integrity recommended that operators who took bets on the MMA event should alert state regulators. That said, president Matthew Holt stated that the body cannot divulge details of the ongoing investigation.

The reaction from various state regulators doesn’t bode well for the PFL. According to ESPN, the Arizona Department of Gaming is nixing the PFL from its wagering catalog. Meanwhile, the Colorado Division of Gaming is investigating the matter. The Nevada Gaming Control Board and the New Hampshire Lottery said they’re both “aware of the situation.”

Suspicious bets appear to be trending in March and April. On March 14, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay called on the NFL to investigate shady bets around Tom Brady’s canceled retirement plans. Other sportsbooks also flagged up suspicious wagers around the QB’s sudden return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.