Esports match-fixing has been on the rise in Australia even going so far as to lead to arrests and links to organised crime. In a report from ABC News Australia about the ongoing issues in the regional sports scene, one young player spoke out about the rampant match-fixing.
Joshua Hough-Devine is a 19-year-old Australian professional CS:GO player for the Rooster 2 team. He was recently handed a 12 month ban from the sport for betting. In the interview, 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.
“It’s young emerging players like this that are often the target of match-fixers. Josh says he’s been approached online to throw matches, but he refused.
‘I’ve been offered like $2,000 a match to throw, but I just don’t take it because it’s just not what I’m about,’ he says.
‘Like why would I take $2,000 when you have a possibility of getting arrested?’ “
Who is targeted?
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. Speaking to ABC News, Detective Superintendent Steve White, says:
“Due to lack of education by leagues, tournaments, or the game publishers, players will be potentially unaware of the rules governing betting on esports or even how to recognise the match-fixing approach or how to report it.”
ESIC and corruption
The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) investigates and reports on corruption allegations around the globe and compared to other investigative bodies, they are overwhelmed. According to ESIC’s global strategy director, Stephen Hanna:
“We’ve seen a very significant upturn in all sorts of match-fixing activity, betting, fraud-related activity in esports, across all titles. If you look at another sport like cricket, they probably have between four to six major match-fixing investigations annually. We have 14 and that was basically picked up in the span of three months and they are all fairly major.”
The integrity of CS:GO
It’s clear that esports, and especially CS:GO is facing a major issue of integrity. In the past few months, the CS:GO scene 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.
It will take a long time and some very hard work by tournament organisers and players alike to regain the trust of the esports community. BLAST Esports is already attempting to improve the integrity of the sport by implementing new regulations, but this will not fix the issue of match-fixing. What is the point of esports betting odds if the whole game is rigged?