Australia: Video Game Betting Fraud Busted

Australian authorities arrested six players of an online video game who allegedly lost the matches on purpose, betting against themselves and bringing in up to AUD 30,000 (US$20,200), ABC reported Monday.

 Counter-Strike Global Offensive iconThe icon for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Photo: Shrikantnarvekar, CC BY-SA 4.0)The suspects, all between 19 and 22 years old, were playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, an online multiplayer video game. The investigation started in March, when police were tipped off by a betting agency. 

The suspects were detained and questioned in August and released, but the investigation is ongoing and authorities are continuing to work with betting agencies to detect fraud within the gaming industry.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson told local media that the arrests should send the message that “police will take any reports of suspicious or criminal activity within eSports seriously.”

This investigation is the largest of its kind conducted in the country, and the multimillion dollar eSports industry is considered to be the fastest growing sports industry in the world.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), released in 2012, is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game. Because of the game’s competitive nature, it has become a target of many types of eSports bets. 

On average, professional players can rake in AUD60,000 ($40,500) and the prize pools can reach up to seven figures.

By the end of 2016 Counter-Strike was the best-selling PC game of all time with 25 million copies sold.

The Esport Integrity Commission helped Australian police conduct the investigation in order to “prevent the utilisation of eSports as a vehicle for the perpetration of fraud.’’

Integrity Commissioner, Ian Smith, said that the arrest should be “a wake up call to those players match-fixing that the net is closing. Every ESIC suspicious betting alert goes to Victoria Police and, if there is any Australian connection, they will pursue it.”

According to ESIC, the number of betting alerts which may be connected to match-fixing from 2017 to 2018 nearly doubled, showing an increase from 39 to 74. 

To oppose this and other threats to eSports, ESIC continuously extends its Members and Supporters list, paying great attention to the bookmakers’ community.

The body also warns that the number of reported irregularities in betting which may be connected to match-fixing increased by almost double in the previous year, where 74 irregularities were reported compared to the 39 reported in 2017.