Unregulated gambling markets are becoming a big concern for the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC). This is mainly because of illegal skin betting, match-fixing and illegal betting on the sport in its biggest markets. These markets, mainly China, South Korea and the United States, have laws against betting in general. However, that does not seem to put a dampener on fraud concerns for competitive gaming.
Ian Smith, the ESIC commissioner, has spoken about the body’s concerns in the UK to The Guardian. He said that fraud and match-fixing are a big threat to eSports as a whole. According to Smith, the suspicious bet alerts from China specifically indicates match-fixing. This is worrying, as the global eSports market is worth nearly US$696 million (AU$943 million). The ESIC estimates the value of illegal bets for 2016 was nearly US$2 billion (AU$2.71 billion).
While the Esports Integrity Coalition is able to monitor most markets, the number of illegal bets means it is difficult to track. Additionally, there are no governing bodies to enforce eSports integrity, making for a fractured market. This is, fortunately, changing thanks to larger Esports providers and tournament operators. These companies enforce their own regulations and solutions. However, there are many who don’t.
So, it may be time for tournament operators and video game creators to combine efforts. The ESIC is has many members already taking steps, but a united regulator could soon be created. This will also be necessary for eSports to be included in events such as the Olympics.
Match-fixing is not new to eSports, because of the lower prize pools for professional players. This leaves them open to influence from gambling syndicates willing to pay teams to throw matches.
In 2014, a match-fixing scandal hit the South Korean market when the 2014 StarCraft champion was charged with match-fixing and fraud in conjunction with a gambling syndicate. The player, Seung Hyun, was arrested by South Korean police and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was then stripped of his titles, fined and suspended for three years.
Without regulation, competitive video gaming could soon become entrenched in scandal. With that in mind, eSports integrity could become harder to maintain. Keep visiting Pokies.com for updates on eSports and online gaming news.