In a first for Ohio sports betting, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) issued an emergency order halting bets on a specific team.
The Commission’s executive director, Matthew Schuler, issued the order on Monday prohibiting sportsbooks in the state from taking any bets on games involving University of Alabama baseball. The order is effective immediately.
Since Ohio sports betting launched on Jan. 1, the OCCC has shown a keen interest in the integrity of Ohio betting markets and issues related to collegiate sports betting.
Ohio takes down Alabama baseball betting market over ‘suspicious activity’
Schuler’s order was in response to an alert issued on Friday by Las Vegas firm U.S. Integrity, which monitors betting markets, according to ESPN. The U.S. Integrity alert cited “suspicious wagering activity” involving the Crimson Tide game vs. LSU.
FanDuel Sportsbook removed Alabama baseball from its apps in all jurisdictions in response.
In a statement to PlayOhio on May 2, the director of communications for the OCCC, Jessica Franks said:
“The Commission received information from one of its certified independent integrity monitors regarding wagers made on University of Alabama baseball, and made the decision to prohibit all wagers on UA Baseball. We are continuing to look into the matter.”
ESPN reported Franks as saying that the suspicious betting activity originated in Ohio, at Cincinnati’s BetMGM Sportsbook location at Great American Ball Park.
The alleged suspicious wagering activity on Friday’s Alabama-LSU baseball game occurred at the sportsbook located at Great American Ballpark, according to a spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. https://t.co/crL0Qr7g1m
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) May 2, 2023
Bets on LSU vs. Alabama placed in Cincinnati raised suspicion
The chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Johns, told NOLA.com that two bets in Cincinnati, both involving LSU winning the game, raised alarms.
“There were a couple of bets made in Cincinnati, Ohio,” Johns said. “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.”
LSU was a -245 favorite on the moneyline, meaning bettors had to put up $245 to win $100 on the Tigers winning the game. LSU ended up winning 8-6 after holding off a late comeback by Alabama, which scored four runs in the ninth inning.
Ohio has focused on issues related to college betting
The OCCC has had its eye on potential issues regarding college-aged athletes and bettors.
On Jan. 18, Schuler responded to reports of college athletes receiving hate messages and other harassment from sports gamblers, vowing to ban the perpetrators from betting if they can be identified.
The OCCC fined PENN Sports Interactive (Barstool Sportsbook) and DraftKings early on for targeting colleges or individuals under 21 with marketing events and materials.
In addition, experts at Miami University Ohio’s Institute for Responsible Gaming, Lotteries and Sport say that college students are particularly vulnerable to developing problem gambling habits. The Institute’s Matt McMurray also points out that the gambling behavior of college athletes, or their friends or family could affect their performance or the integrity of sporting events.
We do not know if the recent “suspicious activity” had anything to do with college students, however.