OCCC executive director Matthew Schuler said the emergency mandate to “prohibit all wagers on UA Baseball” was to be effective immediately.
All sports betting operators in Ohio must not accept any bets on the upcoming game between Alabama and Vanderbilt or any other baseball game involving the Crimson Tide until further notice.
OCCC spokesperson Jessica Franks said the commission is still looking into the matter. Still, FanDuel took a drastic step by suspending the Crimson Tide baseball team from its betting markets nationwide.
Acknowledgment from involved parties
In the Friday game at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, LSU held an 8-1 lead over Alabama after seven innings and eventually defeated them 8-6, despite a late rally by the Crimson Tide. LSU was favored around -245 over Alabama.
The Tigers (35-8, 15-5 in the SEC) swept the three-game weekend series against Alabama (30-15, 9-12).
The Crimson Tide are scheduled to start a new three-game series on Thursday against the No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores.
The University of Alabama board released a statement on Tuesday via The Tuscaloosa News after it became aware of the situation.
“Alabama Athletics became aware of this situation Monday evening and is actively seeking information about the report,” said Crimson Tide deputy athletic director Jessica Paré.
The Louisiana Gaming Board also received an alert regarding the suspicious wagering activity involving the LSU-Alabama game at the BetMGM sportsbook in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
“One was on a parlay which involved the LSU-Alabama game, and then there was another straight-up (money line) bet. I was told it was a large bet that involved LSU-Alabama.”
– Ronnie Johns, Louisiana Gaming Board chairman
It is the first alert involving a state school the board had ever received since Johns became chairman in 2021, even before sports betting was legal in the state.
“That in itself indicates that there’s definitely no suspicious activity on the part of LSU,” said Johns.
He believed LSU was not implicated in the issue, so there was no justification for prohibiting college baseball betting in Louisiana.
“You don’t typically suspect the team that was picked to win the game.”
The NCAA has released a statement acknowledging the situation, saying it is gathering more information on the matter.
One Possible Explanation
One possible explanation for the alert and abnormal betting activity was Alabama starting pitcher Luke Holman was scratched one hour before the start of Friday’s tilt, and BetMGM failed to change the number on the board to reflect the lineup change.
The gamblers spotted a weak number, smashed the counter, and set off all the flashing lights at US Integrity. The OCCC then had no choice but to suspend wagers on the contest and prohibit wagering on Alabama games until this situation was addressed and adjudicated.
One of a Growing List of Concerns with Alabama Baseball
The investigation into suspicious betting activity comes on the heels of former Crimson Tide pitcher Johnny Blake Bennett alleging in a recently filed lawsuit that former manager Brad Bohannon, pitching coach Jason Jackson, and athletic trainer Sean Stryke mishandled an injury to his ribs that caused the former starting pitcher an injury to his arm.
Neither the University of Alabama nor Athletic Director Greg Byrne was named in the suit, and no word yet when this matter will be resolved.
Who is US Integrity?
U.S. Integrity collaborates with various professional sports leagues, collegiate conferences such as the SEC, and significant online sports betting platforms such as FanDuel and DraftKings that operate in states where sports betting is legal, including Ohio.
The firm employs algorithmic analysis to detect suspicious activity, monitor betting and line movements and detect insider information misuse, match-fixing, and game manipulation.
According to California attorney Baird Fogel, flagging wagers like this often happens when there are big last-minute moves in the odds, especially in games where one team is significantly ranked higher.
Since there is yet to be a national authority that oversees the U.S. sports betting industry, state regulators must make their own decisions while relying on integrity reports.
Ohio is the only state regulator to have issued a directive in response to the recent suspicious activity since the historic 2018 PASPA ruling allowing the opportunity for legalized sports bettors to be decided by the voters of each US state.
Although legal sports betting is relatively new in Ohio, the Buckeye State has garnered over $1.7 billion in wagers since January 1, with 15 sportsbooks operating.