Five men from Victoria face up to 10-years in jail for their part in an eSports match-fixing scam. The charges are in relation to the ultra-popular first-person called Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO.
eSports is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The video game industry is worth more than the music and film industry worldwide. Prize money continues to rise in eSports competitions. CS:GO players shared almost $22.5 million in 2019. Unscrupulous people will always look for shortcuts where they can make money. CS:GO match-fixing is one avenue these scammers target.
CS:GO Match-Fixing Investigation Reaches Climax
The Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit launched its investigation in March 2019 following some suspect CS:GO matches. Australia’s Organised Crime Intelligence Unit arrested four men before police arrested two more.
Assistant Commissioner for Victoria Police, Neil Paterson spoke about the arrests last March.
“eSports is really an emerging 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. We encourage anyone with information to come forward.”
The arrests came after suspicious betting patterns emerged in a CS:GO match at the ESEA-Mountain Dew League. These matches tend to attract no more than $1,000 in betting activity. This particular match saw more than 20 bets valued at over $30,000.
Fans tuning into the CS:GO match in question believe the team lost their match on purpose. All six men denied the charges, but there’s enough evidence to charge them with match-fixing.
Five Men Charged With Fixing CS:GO Match
A 20-year-old man from Mill Park, Melbourne is charged with several crimes. He’s charged with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome. He’s also charged with two counts of using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes. Separately, the man is charged with possessing cannabis.
Two other 20-year-old men from Mill Park and another from South Morang are charged with three counts of using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.
Furthermore, an older 27-year-old man from Sale is charged with five counts of using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.
All five men face court in Melbourne and Sale this September.
Assistant Commissioner Paterson revealed some information about the match-fixers.
“We’ve got young men, typically 19-or-20-year-olds who have no history with police. They’re allegedly getting involved in corruption offences at quite a young age that have serious consequences for them. The sheer volume of young men involved in gambling is at epidemic proportions.”
Why Would Video Gamers Fix Matches?
Interest in eSports such as CS:GO has ballooned recently with the COVID-19 pandemic confining bettors to their homes. eSports are one of the few sports punters can still bet on with major sporting events postponed or cancelled.
Criminals approach eSports teams with offers of money in exchange for losing their match. The team loses its match on purpose while the criminals bet large sums of money on the opposition.
Elite CS:GO players can and do make millions of dollars per year. Some of this comes from prize money and sponsorship deals.
Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz is one of the best CS:GO players of all-time. Reedtz has won almost $1.6 million in prize money, but far more from sponsorship deals. He is a special case because Reedtz plays at an elite level.
The very best player command the biggest prizes and sponsorship deals, which is just like any other professional sport. Virtus.Pro is one of the best CS:GO teams. It recently increased its players salary to an astonishing $25,000 per month. Lesser teams receive a fraction of these huge salaries. Other, lesser pro teams receive between $4,000 and $6,000 per year. A criminal offering them $5,000 for throwing their match seems like a lot of money.