The Professional Fighters‘ League (PFL) Challenger Series aired on Friday, April 1, and FuboTV advertised the broadcast as a live event. After the PFL said the fights actually occurred a week prior, wagers on the event were flagged as suspicious betting activity.
Betting activity for PFL event shifted hours before broadcast
When promoting the broadcasted event, FuboTV tweeted on the Friday evening that fights aired. The tweet said, “Fighters are in the building for TONIGHT.”
FuboTV also tweeted earlier that same day, saying, “TONIGHT PFL Challenger Series brings you their pro debuts! Check out all the action LIVE at 9PM ET anywhere you can stream.”
As the evening drew nearer, though, suspicious betting activity started popping up just before the broadcast. The Challenger Series’ odds began to move drastically in favor of the fighters who would ultimately win.
According to sportsbook Bet365, heavyweight Rakim Talley was originally favored to win at –290 odds. Ahead of the broadcast, though, his odds drastically increased to –2,500.
Other winning fighters whose odds changed drastically ahead of the broadcast were:
- Andrija Stankovic
- Alexei Pergande
- Christian Turner
- Daeri Alderman
U.S. Integrity caught the suspicious activity and took action
On Saturday, the day after the event broadcasted, U.S. Integrity sent multiple notifications to various sportsbooks. The notifications alerted the sportsbooks that the PFL confirmed the fights were pre–recorded and actually took place on March 25.
“As such,” the notification stated, “it’s very possible that any potentially suspicious wagering activity is indicative of nefarious behavior.”
U.S. Integrity is a company based in Las Vegas that works to monitor betting markets for suspicious activity. Due to their catch in this matter, sportsbooks were able to take quick action.
“Our goal as always is to notify the industry of any potential nefarious, abnormal or suspicious activity as soon as possible so they can take action as quickly as possible,” said President of U.S. Integrity, Matthew Holt.
Holt has said U.S. Integrity cannot disclose any details at this time since the investigation is ongoing.
Sports betting authorities respond to the suspicious betting activity
Some sportsbooks have said they will refrain from settling any bets on the event while the investigation is taking place. Many state gaming departments are also investigating and taking other actions.
Both the New Hampshire Lottery and the Nevada Gaming Control Board reference that they are aware of the situation. The Colorado Division of Gaming has said it will continue to investigate the issue.
The Arizona Department of Gaming, the fantasy sports and event wagering administrator for the state, has taken further action than other state gaming divisions. Moreover, it has taken the PFL out of its wagering catalogue entirely.
PFL denies responsibility for the suspicious betting activity
The Challenger Series, put on by the PFL, is attached to quite a few advertisements and several teasers leading up to the event.
One tweet by the League was on Friday evening and included a photo of the fighters along with text saying, “checking out tonight’s office.”
However, Loren Mack, PFL spokesperson, said that betting on the event was not driven by the PFL.
“Any sportsbooks that took bets on the prerecorded program did so without the consent or knowledge of the PFL,” Mack said. “The PFL did not include any betting lines, content, or promotion in connection with the program.”
U.S. Integrity’s alert to sportsbooks also included a statement from the League, which said that the PFL “entered into confidentiality agreements with everyone involved” in the pre-recording of the event.
FuboTV says marketing the event as live was an error
Furthermore, FuboTV certainly marketed the Challenger Series as a live event, even though they had prior knowledge that it was pre-recorded. FuboTV’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Jennifer Press, said that this was an unfortunate error.
“The PFL Challenger Series is typically streamed live on Fubo Sports Network,” she said. “The April 1st event was the lone exception and pre-taped. We inadvertently used the same promo copy for the April 1st show as we did for previous shows, which was a mistake.”
Press added that FuboTV “regrets the error.”
Who is ultimately responsible for losses?
Karl Bennison formerly served as Chief of the Enforcement Division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. He says that, while FuboTV did make the error in advertising the event as a live one, the responsibility ultimately lies with sportsbooks in this situation.
“Generally speaking, the licensed sportsbook operator is held accountable by the gaming regulator for knowing event and cut-off times for the wagers being offered and is prohibited from knowingly accepting past-posted wagers,” Bennison said. “There may or may not be law enforcement concerns with respect to a given past-post incident. It depends on the facts surrounding the incident and applicable law in the subject jurisdiction.”
DraftKings had offerings for the Challenger Series event in several states, according to a spokesperson.
“At the time we believed the event in question was live. After noticing unusual activity on a number of fights, DraftKings removed the markets,” DraftKings said in a statement. “We are working with regulatory bodies to determine the appropriate course of action.”
Sports bettors show rightful frustration at the situation
Winning bets for the Challenger Series event were flagged and many accounts were showing as “under review” when bettors went to collect winnings after the event.
Many bettors have said on social media that they were unaware that the event wasn’t live, particularly since it was advertised as such.
Virginia bettor, Kyle Miller, said he saw rumors on social media that the event was pre-recorded. He said he tried through his own online research to confirm it, to no avail.
Miller said he didn’t know the results of the fights he placed wagers on with BetMGM. He won roughly $200 as a result of his bets and can’t access those winnings due to the investigation.
“The bets that I placed won. They all won,” he said. “The money was in my account. Everything was good. Then I log in [Sunday] to place some more bets on UFC this week, and that money was gone.”
Miller operates a website that offers betting advice and commentary on MMA. He said he submitted a grievance with BetMGM and the gambling company told him that his account was under review.