Could Baseball Gambling Scandal Further Impede Future of Alabama Sports Betting?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 27, 2023 12:00 AM
Alabama sports betting scandal could have a lasting effect on the state.

Anyone keeping a close eye on the future of sports betting in Alabama may want to sit down. Yet another curveball has been thrown into the debate.

The University of Alabama recently announced that they had fired their baseball coach, Brad Bohannon, after the program found itself embroiled in a sports betting scandal. To be sure, the gambling itself did not take place inside The Crimson State. Alabama sports betting remains illegal. But the issue directly involved members of the baseball program, and it allegedly impacted wagering trends elsewhere in the United States, including Ohio and New Jersey.

What exactly happened? Who was involved? Will there be any further ramifications? And above all, will this controversy make it even harder for Alabama to legalize sports betting sometime in the near future?

Read on to find out about all the pertinent details—and the prospective long-term fallout.

Details Emerge on the Alabama Sports Betting Scandal

Although the University of Alabama hasn't extensively elaborated on the circumstances that led to Bohannon's dismissal, details have emerged in the weeks that followed. Here's Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg with the full scoop:

"The school said in a statement that Bohannon was fired for 'among other things, violating the standards, duties and responsibilities expected of university employees.' His firing comes as investigations had begun in Ohio and New Jersey after betting on Alabama games was halted earlier this week because of what regulators saw as suspicious betting activity. Ohio halted action on Alabama games on Monday after receiving information from a state casino commission integrity board member about bets on Alabama’s game against LSU on Friday. The Crimson Tide lost 8-6 to the Tigers."

Though there's no telling exactly how many bets this violation impacted, it was a series of wagers in Ohio that reportedly raised red flags. "There were a couple of bets made in Cincinnati, Ohio," the Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Johns told NOLA.com. "One was on a parlay which involved the LSU-Alabama game, and then there was another straight-up (moneyline) bet. I was told it was a large bet that involved LSU-Alabama.

According to ESPN, both of these wagers were placed at the Great American Ball Park in Ohio. The available "surveillance video allegedly indicated the person who made the bets was communicating with Bohannan," the manager of the Baseball team. Ohio and New Jersey swiftly pulled betting on Alabama baseball games. The state of Pennsylvania followed suit the next day.

That's the extent of the publicly available details. The exact amounts of these wagers, in particular, remain a mystery. Granted, they likely wouldn't have impacted how Bohannan was disciplined. Any behavior of this kind is strictly prohibited by the NCAA. But the dollar amount would inform just how much the overall betting markets were impacted, if at all.

Will This College Baseball Betting Scandal Prevent Alabama from Legalizing Sports Gambling in the Future?

It is impossible to tell what impact, if any, this situation will have on the timeline for Alabama sports betting. 

Make no mistake, it will surely come up the next time the Alabama state legislature decides to discuss the legalization of gambling. Detractors, specifically, will cite it as an example of downside. Many within the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate have expressed concern about the moral and socioeconomic risks associated with legal sports betting. This is a controversy that would seem to confirm those fears.

At the same time, it's unlikely the Alabama baseball betting scandal shapes gaming policies in any meaningful way. For starters, it won't even be a hot-button issue when the state legislature reconvenes. They long ago adjourned for the year, and Alabama sports betting was already tabled for 2023.

What's more, The Crimson State hasn't so far opposed legal gambling exclusively because of prospective moral dilemmas. Logistical hurdles have been at the forefront of a slow-moving dialogue.

Most states tend to funnel their sports betting operations through their lottery system. However, Alabama is one of only five states without a lottery in place. To legalize sports betting, they would also need to create a lottery system. And to date, policymakers aren't yet convinced that legwork is worth the potential tax revenue.

Alabama Sports Betting Controversy is a Bigger Problem for NCAA Gambling

If anything, the Alabama baseball gambling scandal is a bigger detriment to betting on college sports. This is the second instance of a major violation in the past few months. The University of Cincinnati recently dismissed members of their baseball staff under similar circumstances. In their case, there wasn't any video surveillance of betting manipulation, but they apparently encountered issues and failed to report them to the NCAA.

Unfortunately, this is an issue all states as well as the best online sports betting sites in the USA must grapple with.

While the new Naming, Image and Likeness laws allow collegiate athletes to capitalize on their brand, most remain unpaid. And the coaches associated with these programs are for the most part modestly to poorly compensated—unless they manage a Tier 1 program in a major sport.

Allowing the public to bet on the outcomes of events involving unpaid athletes and non-marquee coaches is a slippery slope. The temptation to manipulate markets is, in theory, greater than it is at the professional level, where any offending parties have more to lose. This is presumably why some states have been hesitant to legalize betting on college sports as part of their gambling policies.

Might this trend catch on if these scandals keep popping up? Will Alabama disallow betting on college sports when they finally make the transition to legal gambling? Or will we simply see harsher restrictions and regulatory measures put in place at the best online sportsbooks? Time will tell. But rest assured, the industry won't let these issues continue cropping up without reacting accordingly. They won't have a choice.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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