If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months, then you know that the Counter Strike: Global Offensive community has been rocked by a massive betting and match-fixing scandal. The CS:GO competitive and esports betting scene is now facing major issues of integrity. In the past few months.
The competitive integrity has been marred by the actions of seven CS:GO pros in the Australian Mountain Dew League who were banned for betting on their own games and fixing matches. Outside of the match-fixing scandal, 37 coaches of well-known top-tier teams were caught using a “spectator bug” to cheat in CS:GO events.
This should be a quick need-to-know guide on the CS:GO betting scandal
The Spectator Bug
While many issues were still bubbling under the surface, this was the first major event in the recent CS:GO betting scandal to come with consequences. On the 4th of September 2020, the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) opened up a line of inquiry into allegations that people were viewing a stream of a CS:GO match in spectator mode and using what they saw to influence and gain an advantage in the game. Just like you use CS:GO live score to gain an advantage when betting, they use the spectator bug to gain an advantage when playing.
As a result of the initial suspicions, a total of 25,000 demos of CS:GO games played between 2016 and 2020 were reviewed both by AI and by human inspectors. Over 15.2 terabytes of demo footage were scrolled through and reviewed by the Integrity Commission and 37 coaches were sanctioned.
Coaches from most of the top teams in CS:GO esports were hit by sanctions including coaches and former coaches of teams such as FaZe Clan, MiBR, HellRaisers, Heroic, Natus Vincere, and Team Digitas. These sanctions included bans from the game ranging from 3 to 36 months.
Despite this major violation of the rules, on the 2nd of December 2020, ESIC decided not to press forward with any prosecutions. While this was a widespread and issue, the advantages gained by the bug was negligible, the real scandal was yet to break.
Corruption in the Mountain Dew League
Over the last two years, ESIC had been receiving suspicious bet alerts through their global integrity monitoring framework. It pointed towards a major CS:GO betting scandal in the Mountain Dew League.
They launched a full-scale investigation into the allegations of match-fixing and players betting on their own matches on csgo betting sites. The seven players identified by this new investigation were Akram “akram” Smida and Corey “netik” Browne, who both played for the team Rooster. Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic, Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys, and Joshua “jhd” Hough-Devine, who all were team members of Team Rooster 2. The remaining two players were Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi of Team Lakers and Daryl “Mayker” May of Ground Zero Gaming.
This initial investigation landed these players in pretty hot water and they were all handed 12 months bans from the competitive scene. This was the first shot across the bow of the corrupt members of the esports scene.
A player comes forward
Joshua Hough-Devine, one of the seven CS:GO players who were handed a 12 month ban from the esport for betting, spoke to ABC News about the widespread nature of match-fixing. He claimed that “he only ever bet on himself to win and he never threw a match.”
He took full responsibility for his actions and claimed that the only reason he bet on himself was that he did not read the rules. In the same ABC News report, Devine went on to speak about the issues facing younger players like himself. It seems that younger, less experienced esports competitors are easier targets for people looking to fix esports matches.
Devine and his team at Rooster 2 are not top of the league, they aren’t going to show up at any major competitions any time soon. So, why are lower-level players being targeted? The answer seems to be poor pay and less education. Semi-pro players are frequently younger, poorly paid, and often seeking part-time work outside of esports, a payment of $2000 could be very tempting. There is also often a lack of education from leagues or tournament organisers on what constitutes match-fixing or even an illegal action.
The FBI gets involved
As a result of the interview and further investigation, ESIC determined that organised betting syndicates had been putting pressure on MDL competitors to throw matches. This serious new development in their case made ESIC escalate their investigation and pull in the resources of the FBI.
The FBI will be invoking RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act. This was the same act that was used to bring down Al Capone and many other major criminal gangs. This just points to the severity of the crimes that are being perpetrated.
This would spell the end of any player caught in the investigation’s crosshairs, the CS:GO betting scandal is now in the realm of real and serious criminal prosecution. ESIC has yet to publish the findings of its investigation but I suspect there are some very nervous players out there right now.