An emergency order issued by the Ohio Casino Control Commission surrounding the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team has made waves nationally this week.
The order came about after “suspicious wagering activity” was detected during Alabama’s game against No. 1 LSU on Friday. Both the OCCC and Louisiana Gaming Control Board noted that two specific bets, placed at the BetMGM Sportsbook at Great America Ballpark in Cincinnati, triggered a suspicious activity alert.
The news, which was first reported by ESPN, has resulted in the Crimson Tide’s baseball games being blacklisted on all Ohio sportsbooks going forward.
There is no legal, regulated sports betting in Alabama.
Details of Bets on Alabama-LSU Game
LGCB chairman Ronnie Johns told NOLA.com that the two wagers that were flagged involved a parlay bet and another straight-up wager on the LSU-Alabama Friday contest.
Johns told the newspaper that both bets were on LSU to win the game, which the Tigers did 8-6 after entering the contest as a -245 moneyline favorite.
“One was on a parlay which involved the LSU-Alabama game, and then there was another straight-up (money line) bet," said Ronnie Johns, chairman of the board. "I was told it was a large bet that involved LSU-Alabama."
If sports betting becomes legal in the Yellowhammer State, major national operators could enter the market and offer incentives such as a BetMGM Alabama bonus code for signing up.
What Alabama and Regulators Are Saying
A representative of the University of Alabama issued a statement to media this week, saying the Tuscaloosa institution is actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the Crimson Tide’s Friday contest against the Tigers.
“Alabama Athletics became aware of this situation Monday evening and is actively seeking information about the report,” Deputy Athletic Director Jessica Paré said in a statement.
Ohio Casino Control Commission spokesperson Jessica Franks told BetAlabama.com that the agency received an alert from a sports wagering watchdog, U.S. Integrity, on Friday’s contest, which the agency is investigating further.
“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 University of Alabama baseball,” Franks said. “We are continuing to look into the matter.”
Alert First of Its Kind in Louisiana
Johns told NOLA.com that Friday’s betting alert was the first one of its kind that he could recall, dating back to when Louisiana sports betting launched in 2021.
"We've seen some alerts on minor stuff, but our radar goes up if it involves a state school in Louisiana like LSU,” Johns said. “But there is absolutely no suspicious activity regarding LSU at this point."
Johns added that the large amount of money placed by the bettor in Ohio on a sport that normally draws little wagering activity could have been enough to trigger the warning, though there’s much to determine in the days and months ahead.
Current Situation For Wagering
For now, all we know is that Crimson Tide baseball fans looking to wager on Alabama contests will have to do so outside of the Buckeye State in 2023.
Inside Alabama the story is interesting because, if legal wagering on sports does happen there, there’s no doubt that college sports would drive interest in a state with no major professional sports teams and an abiding passion for its colleges, especially SEC members Alabama and Auburn.
"And look, just because it was a suspicious activity doesn't necessarily mean there was any kind of illegal activity," Johns said. "We just don't know yet. There are red flags in terms of sports betting that go up when you see a large bet like that, kind of an isolated bet.
"We welcome those alerts, because we want to make sure the integrity of the sports betting program is intact."
Attempts to reach U.S. Integrity were not successful as of Wednesday afternoon.