As the traditional sports world continues to accept eSports as a legitimate and mainstream form of sports competition, some of the elements associated with sports such as basketball, baseball, and football will undoubtedly become more intertwined with eSports as well. One of those elements, sports betting, is becoming more popular amongst the eSports scene, and with it, the chance for scandal. Though nothing as big or publicized as the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, eSports betting seems to have been hit with a similar situation.
Recently, six arrests were made in Australia in connection to suspicious betting activity in a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament, according to a press release from the Victoria police. Back in March, police received a tip from a betting agency about some suspicious activity related to the tournament. According to the report, “It’s alleged that players were arranging to throw matches and subsequently placing bets on those matches.” In total, police believe “at least five matches were impacted and over 20 bets were put on the matches by Australian punters.”
Last week, authorities executed warrants for three locations leading to four arrests, all of whom were young men under the age of 23. Later that week, another two warrants were issued, leading to the arrests of two 20-year old men. “All six have been interviewed in relation to the offences [sic] of engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, or use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.” If convicted, the accused could be facing up to 10 years in prison.
The investigation by Victoria police into the eSports industry is “one of the first of its kind” according to Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson. “Esports is really an emerging sporting industry and with that will come the demand for betting availability on the outcomes of tournaments and matches,” commented Paterson. He urges gaming and betting industries to continue to aid police in the ongoing investigation into any suspicious gambling activity, as well as report any similar suspicious or criminal activity. Currently, the six men have been released and are awaiting further questions from the police.