INTEGRITY IN AUSTRALIAN ESPORTS

2019-08-26 11:26:45

A comment on behalf of the EGAA following the match-fixing & gambling investigation of esports players announced on Friday 23 August 2019 by the Victorian Police, in response to questions received from the public. Originally posted here on LinkedIn

Q: How will governance and structure be formed around integrity in esports as regards to things like match fixing?

A: (In answering this important question, I do so in my capacity as Interim-CEO of the EGAA and make no comment on the investigation announced by the Victorian Police or on the players who allegedly fixed matches & bet on the fixed outcome.)

Integrity in Esports

There are integrity arrangements in esports, as in traditional sports.

Integrity measures and processes may be implemented by a publisher (owning the IP in the titles esports are based on) running their own leagues or by a tournament organiser (TO, operating under a license from the publisher to use the IP to run events) (both publisher and TO acting as the “governing” or controlling body of their esport), supported in some esports by integrity specialists, such as ESIC and Sportradar. Depending on the publisher and TO, integrity measures may be strong, less strong, or virtually non-existent.

However, even if the publishers & the TOs have the tightest integrity programs and the best resources, players may still breach integrity measures and cheat (as players in traditional sports may and often do) to throw or fix matches, gamble, or take substances to improve competitive performance.

What are some integrity risks in esports?

As in traditional sports, and often in cases of match fixing, an integrity risk will sometimes arise where players are poorly paid and some may become susceptible to external influences, often driven by organised crime, accepting financial inducements to effect an outcome.

Players may also cheat on their own volition, driven by greed or some other motive to fix a result and profit from it.

It is also worth noting that without formal agreements between leagues and TOs, betting companies may determine their odds offered on esports events based upon internal reviews using arbitrary measures, such as ladder position in a league or event. Superior knowledge of a match-up, or inside knowledge of a team or player, could result in these odds being beaten.

How do the betting companies respond?

Betting companies obviously don’t like their systems being manipulated. In response to these risks, they typically employ resources and sophisticated technology to monitor betting activity and alert relevant authorities to irregularities including suspicious payouts.

What about legal responses?

We also have very strong sports integrity laws in place in Australia and the Victorian Police operate a Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU), who work with 3rd party integrity agencies and may investigate tip-offs from the public.

As in the recent case currently under investigation, prison sentences of up to 10 years are available to Australian Courts when sentencing those found guilty of offences 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.

How can esports integrity be improved in Australia?

Beyond the response of betting companies, the investigation powers of law enforcement authorities, and legal sanctions, integrity in Australian esports may be enhanced by:

  • developing a national framework for integrity in relation to esports;
  • working closely with relevant law enforcement, sports and gambling regulators in relation to integrity related concerns;
  • educating players on handling integrity risks; and
  • formalising arrangements between league and tournament owners and betting companies (with product fees payable and strong information sharing and other arrangements), which may provide for better monitoring and allow faster response to incidents.

On behalf of the EGAA, I’m happy to discuss the issues and our recommendations further, and I also acknowledge the kind and professional assistance of:

both co-Leaders of the EGAA Integrity and Gambling Panel. These experts should also be consulted in relation to the broader issues of integrity and gambling, as well as the recommendations made above.

#esports #integrity #sportsintegrity

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