Opinion: Ohio Should Ban Controversial College Baseball Bettor

Written By C.J. Pierre on September 29, 2023
Ohio college baseball bettor ban

Gaming regulators in Ohio continue investigating a situation stemming from “suspicious wagering activity” at an Ohio sportsbook. The father of a Cincinnati Bearcats baseball player has become the central figure in a college baseball betting scandal due to some questionable betting activity.

Bert Eugene Neff Jr. is a resident of Mooresville, Ind. Due to his alleged suspicious betting, the Indiana Gaming Commission decided to ban him from his home state’s casinos and sportsbooks.

But Indiana is barring him from action he took in the Buckeye State. Neff placed the bets at the BetMGM Sportsbook at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

It remains to be seen if he will face similar sanctions in the Ohio sports betting market. However, it should be a no-brainer given these actions’ impact.

Neff should be banned from betting in Ohio

The Indiana Gaming Commission added Neff to its involuntary exclusion list, barring him from entering any Indiana casino or placing bets with a sportsbook. Ohio should do the same. Neff should not be allowed to take part in Ohio sports betting.

The truth is that the bet in question was placed in Ohio. That alone should be enough to warrant a ban. In April, Neff went to the BetMGM Sportsbook at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, which has since relocated to “The Banks,”  and tried to place a large wager on Louisiana State University to defeat the University of Alabama in a college baseball game.

LSU was the top-ranked team in the country and beat Alabama 8-6. The moneyline odds for the game were -245. In other words, bettors had to put up $245 to win $100 on LSU.

According to media reports, Neff was betting upwards of $100,000. That caused employees at the sportsbook to become suspicious, and the bets were flagged by U.S. Integrity, a firm that works with gambling operators to ensure a fair environment.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has jurisdiction over all persons participating in sports betting. However, state law also gives the commission the freedom to deal with these types of allegations however they see fit. The commission is currently looking into Neff and his betting activity.

Ohio banning Neff could encourage cross-state cooperation

The biggest impact if Ohio bans Neff is that this could encourage other states, particularly bordering states, to work together regarding gambling regulation.

In May 2018, the US Supreme Court opened the door for legalized sports betting in America. Since then, more and more states have made moves to legalize sports wagering. However, it is also on each individual state to regulate its industry.

When situations like the one with Neff come around, that can create an issue. Right now, Neff is banned from betting in Indiana.

But there are still plenty of markets he can access. Operators in border states like Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois will still take his action. In other words, Neff’s gambling habits aren’t curbed and the integrity of the games he is betting on are still at risk.

This whole thing happened because a man from Indiana placed bets in Ohio. At this point, there is no reason that this can’t happen again.

It may take federal regulation to enforce nationwide bans, and even then, it might take a scandal on a much larger stage to get that conservation going.

Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois are all still relatively young sports betting markets. It would be smart for regulators in these states to collaborate and compare notes to ensure that people taking part in suspicious betting activity are controlled.

Further impact if Neff’s betting

Neff’s betting has impacted several people other than himself. In May, two Cincinnati baseball staff members were dismissed following an internal review of potential NCAA infractions regarding the baseball program.

Former assistant coach Kyle Sprague and former director of operations Andy Nagel were reportedly discussing gambling with Neff, whose son Andrew was a pitcher for the Bearcats. Head baseball coach Scott Googins resigned on May 31, two weeks after Sprague and Nagel were fired.

Within days of the LSU-Alabama betting activity, Alabama fired head coach Brad Bohannon. Upon looking at video surveillance footage, it was revealed that Neff was communicating with then-Alabama head baseball coach Brad Bohannon when he made the wager.

Photo by AP Photo / Dave Martin
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayOhio. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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