After tracking suspects for six months who the authorities said deliberately lost no less than five tournament matches while placing bets on those matches, arrests have been made. The result of the Australian police’s investigation could see those responsible facing as many as ten years in jail for esports match-fixing.
As most of the world’s sports are postponed, many who enjoy betting on sports have turned to watching talented gamers battle it out online while playing esports. The number of people tuning in via the popular Amazon platform Twitch has almost doubles from this time last year. Fans of esports generally tune in to Google’s YouTube, Microsoft’s Mixer, and Twitch to watch professional gamers play many of the best selling Electronic Arts games such as FIFA soccer.
As a result of the increase and the amount of money it is generating, it is tempting many players to break the rules and is seeing a substantial increase in corruption with multiple gamers being caught for participating in illegal betting syndicates who fix matches. As all action is carried out in a virtual world and throughout the world, it is far more difficult to bring an end to this type of behaviour than it is during regular sporting events.
Australia forms Esports Integrity Commission
To combat this, Australia formed the Esports Integrity Commission as a tool to assist in the fighting of corruption in this industry. Its director, Stephen Hanna, while commenting on the challenges said: “It won’t be possible to fully eliminate illegal betting and match-fixing. It’s about limiting its position in the market to the greatest extent possible.”
It is expected that esport wagers will increase to over $13 billion this year, up from $5.5 billion two years ago based on a recent report from EK Gaming & Advisers. This makes it one of the largest in terms of sports betting growth that is estimated to be worth $135 billion globally. That has resulted in betting firms such as Hillside Sports ENC, Tipico and Betway all offering esports as a betting option to their members.
While governments have been attempting to bring an end to esport betting, Sweden is the only one of late who introduced legislation that will fine betting companies that offer odds on any esport matches where the average age of participants is less than 18. The goal is to protect the integrity of esports and bring an end to providing any financial incentives to fix matches. It is expected that the U.S and Spain will also be introducing similar legislation this year or early in 2021.