Ohio gambling regulator halts betting on Alabama baseball

Ohio’s top gambling regulator has barred licensed sports books in the state from accepting bets on Alabama baseball games after a report that warned of suspicious gambling activity.

Matthew Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, issued the emergency order on Monday “prohibiting the acceptance of any wagers on University of Alabama Baseball effective immediately.” The order was first reported by ESPN.

The order, obtained Tuesday , also said that one of the state’s “certified independent integrity monitors” notified the state about the wagers.

Sports betting is legal in 33 states, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether any other states had issued similar orders.

“We are continuing to look into the matter,” Ohio’s commission spokesperson Jessica Franks said Tuesday.

ESPN reported that Las-Vegas based U.S. Integrity sent out an alert to sportsbooks warning of “suspicious wagering activity” involving Friday night’s Alabama-LSU game. Alabama scored five runs in the ninth inning of an 8-6 loss on LSU, which was ranked No. 1 in the major college baseball polls while Alabama was unranked.

Officials with U.S. Integrity, LSU and Alabama did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The NCAA said in a statement it was aware of the situation and “actively gathering additional information.”

NCAA rules bar athletes and athletic employees from betting on games “and from providing information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition.”

U.S. Integrity monitors “data to see if discrepancies coincide with notable player or coaching events, reveal officiating abnormalities, or are indicative of the misuse of insider information,” according to its website.

Flagging wagers like this often occur when there are huge moves in the odds at the last minute, particularly in a game where one team is much more highly ranked than the other, according to California attorney Baird Fogel, who has experience working with the sports betting industry.

“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,” said Fogel, co-head of the global sports practice for Eversheds Sutherland. “This could all be conjecture, it could all be a coincidence. That’s the wonder of sports betting. Sometimes weird things happen.”

Fanduel Sportsbook did not have upcoming Alabama baseball games listed for wagering on Tuesday.

“U.S. Integrity is one of the best in the game, and so if they flagged an anomaly and detected a discrepancy or some unusual activity, it’s a good idea to listen to them,” Fogel said.

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