Match-fixing in eSports: Dark side of The fast-growing business space

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Australia, Victoria province, in August 2019 police tracked down and arrested six young men who were taking part in an online video game competition “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” The police have been monitoring the group of men for six months and the authorities assume that the men bet on their own defeat in the game and then intentionally lost the tournament. This is the first esports match-fixing case in Australia. All the athletic competitions of 2020 have been delayed for the next year or until further notice so online competitions gaming started booming. Amazon’s Twitch platform has almost twice as many viewers as it had the same time last year. The number of viewers of YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer rose too. The users watch basically every form of gaming competition that is out there. Naturally, the growth of the number of users means that there is more money in the industry. This then means that more people are trying to cheat the system. Gamers who are betting on themselves losing the game, the cyber gangs fixing the matches. The cybercrime has always been hard to track and hard to prosecute because it might be hard to define under whose jurisdiction the crime is actually happening.

Stephen Hanna, Director of Esports Integrity Commission, or ESIC, the commission set up by the iGaming industry to prevent cybercrime in the online gambling world said that it might not be possible to get rid of the crime completely. Unfortunately, there are always people who take advantage of the situation. Many real money online gambling platforms try to create a secure environment for their users. Canada is very handy when it comes to secure space and law. At the same time in EU (particularly in Germany) it is the new licenses that the iGaming providers will be getting that will indicate a secure platform for the users; In Canada, it might be the facial recognition technology that some providers are implementing; in Australia, it’s the ESIC trying to fight crime. These law-abiding iGaming providers suffer from crimes like that the most because their customers lose trust in them. The industry suffers greatly from such crimes. 

Similar to the traditional sports competitions the criminals try to affect the outcome of the games in many ways: bribing gamers is one of the widely-used forms of match-fixing. Even big names of the iGaming world, such as the Indian gamer Nikhil Kumawat, also known as Forsaken, and a South Korean Lee Seung-Hyun, also known as “Life” have been caught cheating and banned from competing. Mr. Seung-Hyun had to spend eighteen months in prison. Governments of the countries to support legal iGaming and esports betting in creating a secure space. In Sweden, the iGaming providers are not allowed to have the majority of players of the age of 18 and younger. Similar regulations are introduced in other countries as quite often the majority of competitors and even winners are teenagers.

Mr. Hanna said that the commission will take more measures to fight cybercrime in the iGaming world. ESIC works closely with iGaming providers and police to gather data that will help them prevent the crime. It was this collaboration that helped them catch the group of six young men who if proven guilty might spend ten years in prison. This is an example for gamers who want to cheat and cybercriminals around the world. Big tournaments even implement drug testing to prevent the use of doping. The iGaming industry is working on becoming more transparent and secure as the number of users rises. The providers try to prevent corruption because they want to be a serious and respected industry. Cybercrime should have no place in the iGaming world.

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