Was Ohio’s ban on bets involving Alabama baseball just an overabundance of caution?
Ohio halted bookmakers in the state taking bets involving Alabama baseball on Monday. Was it just a precaution or does smoke indeed mean fire?
It was all pretty surreal. LSU was playing the Crimson Tide and the Tigers, as the number one team in the country, were the favorites to win the game. Bets were made all over the country and they pretty much followed the expected pattern.
LSU was cruising to a comfortable win, up 7-0 in the eighth inning, when Las Vegas based gambling watchdog company U.S. Integrity alerted its clients to “unusual activity” in betting on the game. This coincided with a five run inning for Alabama, leading bookmakers to suspect something amiss.
Ohio’s Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matthew T. Schuler took the unusual step of directing the state’s licensed sportsbooks to refuse to take any wagers on University of Alabama baseball games. The Commission also decreed that any bets placed on games that hadn’t yet been played be voided.
In the end, Alabama’s comeback was too little, too late, and LSU tacked on another in the ninth to end the game with a Tigers win by a score of 8-6. So what was the issue? After all, the favorite, top ranked team winning the game is hardly unusual.
U.S. Integrity spokesperson Jessica Franks wold not go into details, but said that regulators received a report of a high-value wager placed in Cincinnati.
California attorney Baird Fogel, who has expertise with the sports betting industry, said, “In this instance, the line, I think, moved very dramatically and the game took a very odd turn where the inferior team started to make a huge run. This could all be conjecture, it could all be a coincidence. That’s the wonder of sports betting. Sometimes weird things happen.”
Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Johns went further, explaining, “There were a couple of bets made in Cincinnati, Ohio. 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.” The Louisiana Gaming Control Board is a division of the Louisiana State Police, and Johns confirmed that they were keeping a close eye on developments.
The NCAA has waded in, releasing a statement saying, “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 actively gathering additional information.”
While college sports is no stranger to point-shaving scandals, this could be a simple case of over cautiousness on the part of everyone concerned. The University of Alabama is a much beleaguered program and let’s face it, Alabama is the Great Evil for many schools around the country. It could simply be the connection of the alert and mention of the school that caused this reaction.