Ohio Bans Betting on Alabama Baseball for ‘Suspicious Wagers’

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The Ohio Casino Control Commission said on Tuesday that it is “continuing to look into the matter” after it issued an emergency order on Monday banning “the acceptance of any wagers on University of Alabama baseball.” 

The emergency order was in response to an alert issued by U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based firm that monitors betting markets across the country. They alerted their clients to “suspicious wagering activity” involving Friday night’s game between Alabama and LSU, an 8-6 win for the LSU Tigers.

Two specific bets involving the Alabama-LSU game triggered the alert, according to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. One was a parlay that involved the game, and the other was a moneyline bet on LSU. The reason the Ohio Casino Control Commission is involved is because both bets were placed at the BetMGM sportsbook located at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for MGM told ESPN in a statement, “We work closely with our suspicious activity monitoring provider, U.S. Integrity, regulatory bodies, and law enforcement when necessary. We’re actively working with the OCCC on this incident and won’t be providing additional commentary at this time.”

First Emergency Order for Ohio

Legal sports betting launched in Ohio in January, and this is the first time since then that Ohio has issued an order to prohibit wagers on a team or event because of suspicious activity. 

Ohio defines suspicious sports gambling activity as “activity that cannot be explained and is indicative of any of the following: match-fixing, the manipulation of a sport, misuse of inside information, a potential breach of a sports governing body’s internal rules or code of conduct pertaining to sports gaming, any other conduct that corrupts the outcome of a sport, and any other prohibited activity.”

Scheduled starting pitcher Luke Holman was a late scratch, according to the Alabama game notes. He was replaced by Hagan Banks, who, according to head coach Brad Bohannon, found out an hour before the game that he was going to start.

Banks made it through three innings and left the game trailing, 4-1. Eventually, LSU got out to an 8-1 lead ,before a late rally by Alabama made the final score 8-6.

“The NCAA takes sports wagering very seriously and is committed to the protection of student-athlete well-being and the integrity of competition. We are aware of this issue and are actively gathering additional information,” a spokesperson for the NCAA said on Tuesday.

The NCAA does not allow its athletes or athletic employees to wager on sports or “provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur, and professional athletics competition.”

The Ohio Casino Control Commission’s order has halted the betting on Alabama baseball at all 17 Ohio-based sportsbooks. However, they can all still offer wagers on Alabama in other states and where betting on college baseball is legal.

LSU is the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division I Baseball, and they were -245 favorites to beat unranked Alabama even before the Crimson Tide changed starting pitchers.

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