Arrested in 2019, five individuals now face up to 10 years in prison on charges of fixing esports matches.
Five Men Charged with Match-Fixing in Esports
Australia has charged five men with match-fixing offence in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in what is the country’s first dedicated crack-down on corruption in esports.
The corruption scandal focused on the semi-professional gaming league ESEA-Mountain Dew League. Investigators from Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit charged the suspects last week and, if found guilty, the men could face up to 10 years in prison.
The arrested individuals are mostly in their early 20s. Two 20-year old men and one 22-year old man from Mill Park were arrested in 2019. Another 19-year old man – at the time of the arrest – was from South Morang. The police also arrested two other suspects from Mount Eliza. The oldest man to be arrested was a 27-year old individual from Sale, Victoria.
It’s unclear whom of the suspects apprehended back in 2019 was exonerated from the investigation, as there were six men arrested, but only five have been charged.
The Suspects Knew Each Other
According to Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson, the suspects targeted semi-professional competitions and allegedly won $30,000 on fixed matches on a single team that agree to “throw games”. Based on reporting back in August 2019, the culprits placed as many as 20 bets.
The investigation launched back in March 2019 after the Victoria police was tipped off by a betting agency. At the time, as many as six people were investigated, but the police have now brought charges against five of the original suspects.
Commenting on the case back in 09, Peterson said that esports was an emerging sporting industry and with that came a taste for betting on matches and tournaments outcomes. The five suspects knew themselves prior to the offense, Peterson confirmed.
They had gone to the same high school and university. They had no prior entanglements with police, Peterson clarified, and added:
“The sheer volume of young men involved in gambling, both in high school and in universities, is at epidemic proportions. What I’m not seeing is anyone doing anything particularly about that.”
All but the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), which has been focused on protecting players and keeping esports clean from corruption.
Australia Leads the Way in Addressing Corruption in Esports
Australia is de facto the first country to take corruption in electronic sports seriously. The country has inaugurated a new watchdog that will tackle fraud and corruption in both segments – esports and sports.
The newly-appointed CEO, David Sharpe, who comes from ASADA, Australia’s Anti-Doping agency, is aware of corruption in esports as he has previously collaborated with organizations to address match-fixing and doping.
Peterson and Sharpe are both aware that corruption in esports is taking on greater dimensions and they both want to change that.
Handing down a 10-year prison sentence would most likely not come to pass, as Australia is probably going to seek to raise awareness than penalize youngsters for exploiting what is still a grey industry.