The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has teamed up with Victoria Police in Australia to crack down on match-fixing in the professional esports sector.

The partnership will see Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) receive real-time alerts from ESIC about suspicious betting activity.

This, Victoria Police said, would allow its investigators to launch an investigation as quickly as possible.

The Victorian Crimes Act was also amended in 2013 to add four offenses directly related to falsifying the betting outcome of an event. These crimes do not focus on the type of sporting event, but rather on the falsification of a betting result.

The SIIU conducted Australia’s first law enforcement investigation into match-fixing in esports in 2019. Five men were charged with offenses including conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome and using corrupt behavioral information for betting purposes.

The maximum penalty for such offenses is 10 years’ imprisonment.

Endangered targets in e-sports

Assistant Commissioner for Intelligence and Covert Support Chris Gilbert said that given esports’ demographic, gamers could potentially be more vulnerable targets than those involved in traditional sports.

“These are often young adults who could be more vulnerable to corrupt approaches by criminal organizations due to the low prize money and lack of focus on integrity and education by game developers,” Gilbert said.

“Victoria Police will continue to tackle the infiltration of esports by would-be criminals, including organized crime syndicates.

“In addition to this agreement with ESIC, we have developed strong relationships with a number of esports stakeholders and betting operators and will continue to work together to combat suspicious activity.

“It is important that people understand these are serious offenses with significant penalties and we will take all reports of suspicious activity seriously.”

Stephen Hanna, director of global strategy at ESIC, added: “Collaboration between law enforcement and ESIC is critical to ensuring a fair and safe environment for esports competitors and fans.”

“Esports is a global industry that requires a global response to maintain integrity. By collaborating with law enforcement agencies, we can better detect and investigate suspicious betting activity and protect the integrity of esports competitions.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Victoria Police and other law enforcement agencies to protect esports.”