Australian police have arrested six people for allegedly losing matches on purpose on the popular online game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
In what is Australia’s first police investigation into esports match-fixing, police allege the men, from Victoria and Western Australia, arranged the outcomes of matches during a tournament, and placed bets on their own matches.
The gamers face up to 10 years in prison, under the offences of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome, and use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.
Competitive gaming, or eSports, is a multimillion-dollar global industry and most large betting agencies, like Australia’s Sportsbet, run markets on tournaments. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, also known as CS:GO, is a first-person shooter and popular tournament game that pits two teams of players against each other.
Victoria police assistant commissioner Neil Paterson said it was important to crack down on illegal betting rings in the booming eSports scene.
“Esports is really an emerging sporting industry and with that will come the demand for betting availability on the outcomes of tournaments and matches,” he said. “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.”
Victoria police allege that 20 bets had been placed over five matches but did not disclose the value of those bets. The investigation began in March 2019 after a tip-off from a betting agency.
On Wednesday, detectives from the sporting integrity intelligence unit and the organised crime intelligence unit arrested four men were arrested in Victoria.
Two 20-year old men, and one 22-year old man from Mill Park were arrested, as well as a 19-year old man from South Morang.
On Friday, police in Western Australia arrested a further two men in the Perth suburb of Mount Eliza, both 20 years old.
“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,” Paterson said.
The men have been released pending further enquiries and police said the investigation remains ongoing.