July 01, 2023
A new agreement will provide police with real-time information alerts from across the world to target suspicious betting activity and deter betting-related match-fixing in esports.
The Letter of Arrangement was signed between Victoria Police and esports integrity body the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) in February this year.
It will allow Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) to receive real-time betting alerts from ESIC on esports events should any matches exhibit suspicious betting activity, ensuring detectives can commence an investigation as soon as possible where required.
ESIC is a not-for-profit organisation whose members include government bodies, national esports federations and tournament operators from around the world.
The organisation was established in 2015 with the specific aim of disrupting, preventing and prosecuting all forms of cheating in esports, including match manipulation and doping.
Victoria Police’s SIIU conducted the first Australian law enforcement investigation into match-fixing in esports in 2019.
Five men were charged with a range of offences including engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.
The offences are subject to maximum penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Victoria Police treats match-fixing in esports as seriously as it does traditional sport.
The 2013 amendment to the Victorian Crimes Act introduced four criminal offences directly related to corrupting the betting outcome of an event. These offences do not specify the type of sporting event, but instead refer to the corruption of a betting outcome. As such, any corruption of the betting outcome of an esports event is covered by the legislation.
Quotes attributable to Assistant Commissioner Chris Gilbert – Intelligence and Covert Support Command:
“Sports gambling and esports are global industries and the international aspect can make match-fixing investigations extremely complex.
“This Letter of Arrangement will see ESIC sharing real-time suspicious betting alerts – particularly from offshore wagering operators – with our detectives, allowing for investigations into suspected match-fixing to commence almost immediately.
“Unfortunately, given the demographic of esports, players can be potentially more vulnerable targets than players involved in traditional sports.
“They are often young adults who could be more susceptible to corrupt approaches by criminal entities due to minimal prizemoney and a lack of focus on integrity and education by game developers.
“Victoria Police will continue to target the infiltration of esports by any potential offenders – including by organised crime syndicates.
“Alongside this agreement with ESIC, we’ve developed strong relationships with a number of esports stakeholders and wagering operators, and we’ll continue to work together to target any suspicious activity.
“It’s important that people understand these are significant criminal offences with substantial penalties and we will take any reports of suspicious activity seriously.”
Quotes attributable to Stephen Hanna, Director of Global Strategy at the Esports Integrity Commission:
“Collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the Esports Integrity Commission is essential to ensuring a fair and safe environment for esports competitors and fans. We commend Victoria Police’s proactive and engaged approach to working with ESIC to prevent and deter match-fixing in esports.
“Esports is a global industry that requires a global response to maintain integrity. By working together with law enforcement agencies, like Victoria Police, we can better identify and investigate suspicious betting activity and protect the integrity of esports competitions.
“This Letter of Arrangement signifies the Esports Integrity Commission and Victoria Police’s alignment on the importance of disrupting, preventing, and prosecuting match-fixing in esports. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Victoria Police and other law enforcement agencies around the world to safeguard the future of esports.”