An investigation into suspicious betting activity on an esports league has led to a number of warrants for arrest being executed across Australia.
The investigation, which came about after information was received by local police regarding activity linked to a ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ tournament back in March, was carried out as part of a joint operation between the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit.
Ian Smith, Commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition, was supportive of the police investigation, “It has been a rare privilege to work with a law enforcement unit that is dedicated to eradicating these corrupt practices from sports betting.
“So often the work we do in esports fails to interest police, but Victoria Police has been proactive and innovative and have sought us out to assist with this and other investigations and this level of cooperation between a sport, law enforcement and the licensed betting industry is unprecedented and very welcome.
“In particular, we welcome these arrests which, we hope, will send a signal to the esports community that match-fixing will not be tolerated and that we are taking action that will lead to not only sporting sanctions, but also criminal consequences.”
As it stands, six have been arrested as part of the investigation, and have undergone an interview process in relation to the 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’.
Furthermore, It is alleged that a number of players were planning to fix matches and subsequently place bets, with it being believed that at least five matches were impacted and over 20 bets were placed by Australian punters.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson explained that the investigation involving the esports industry was one of the first of its kind by Victoria Police. He commented: “Esports is really an emerging sporting industry and with that will come the demand for betting availability on the outcomes of tournaments and matches
“It’s important that police and other agencies within the law enforcement, gaming and betting industries continue to work together to target any suspicious activity. These warrants also highlight that police will take any reports of suspicious or criminal activity within esports seriously, and we encourage anyone with information to come forward.”
A statement released by the Victoria Police confirmed the offences could carry up to 10 years imprisonment.