Last week Victoria Police announced six Australians had been charged over the rigging and betting on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches, one of the first cases of its kind in the country. And more charges may be coming, according to the esports integrity body that worked with Victoria Police on the investigation.
The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) is a third-party firm that works with major esports organisers to monitor and maintain the sanctity of tournaments and betting manipulation. Because the coalition is made up of partner members that largely underpin much of the global esports infrastructure, ESIC has access to a wide database of info that helps alert about suspicious activity.
“ESIC shares certain information with law enforcement agencies including suspicious bet alerts, and other relevant information which then prompts and/or informs investigations,” Stephen Hanna, an ESIC director and chairman of ESIC’s Asia Pacific Initative, told Kotaku Australia over email. “We are able to do this because of the large information sharing network we have built with our members. Ultimately, we utilise industry information to protect the industry from people trying to commit crimes and/or tarnish the industry.”
The access to this information, Hanna suggested, helped in the arrest of the six Counter-Strike players last week. But the bigger news is that more arrests are likely to be on the way (emphasis mine):
ESIC is seeing increasing government and law enforcement interest in the area of esports integrity here in Australia. This level of interest is somewhat unique to a few jurisdictions internationally with many jurisdictions yet to acknowledge or act on esports integrity issues as and when they intersect with law. In Australia, ESIC has worked with the Victorian Police on one matter which resulted in arrests and we are working on several more which are expected to crystalise in the near future.
When asked to clarify whether those arrests were in Australia, Hanna confirmed that the cases were in conjunction with Victoria Police.
The ESIC director added that the coalition has spoken directly with the NSW Crime Commission to form “clear lines of communication” to further crack down on betting manipulation in Australian esports.
“ESIC’s view is that esports will continue to need the buy-in of authorities in order to deter opportunistic criminals from utilising the sport we know and love as an illicit vehicle for their own benefit,” he said.
In Australia, any earnings won through rigged matches or dishonest betting fall under the category of fraud, or more specifically the crime of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception. The original Victoria Police release, which has been unpublished after seven days as per standard procedure, said the arrested men were interviewed over “engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contigency, or use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes”.