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ESIC partners Victoria police to tackle esports match-fixing

| By Robert Fletcher
The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) has partnered with Victoria police in Australia to tackle match-fixing in the professional esports sector.

Under the partnership, Victoria police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) will receive real-time alerts from ESIC on suspicious betting activity.

This, Victoria police said, would allow its detectives to commence an investigation as soon as possible.

The Victorian Crimes Act was also amended in 2013 to add four criminal offences directly related to corrupting the betting outcome of an event. The type of sporting event is not specified in these offences, but instead refer to the corruption of a betting outcome.

The SIIU conducted the first Australian law enforcement investigation into match-fixing in esports in 2019. Five men were charged with offences including engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.

Such offences are subject to maximum penalties of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Vulnerable targets in esports

Assistant commissioner for intelligence and covert support command, Chris Gilbert, said that given the demographic of esports, players can be potentially more vulnerable targets than those involved in traditional sports.

“They are often young adults who could be more susceptible to corrupt approaches by criminal entities due to minimal prize money and a lack of focus on integrity and education by game developers,” Gilbert said.

“Victoria police will continue to target the infiltration of esports by any potential offenders, including by organised crime syndicates.

“Alongside this agreement with ESIC, we’ve developed strong relationships with a number of esports stakeholders and wagering operators and we’ll continue to work together to target any suspicious activity.

“It’s important that people understand these are significant criminal offences with substantial penalties and we will take any reports of suspicious activity seriously.”

ESIC’s director of global strategy, Stephen Hanna, added: “Collaboration between law enforcement agencies and ESIC is essential 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 working together with law enforcement agencies, we can better identify and investigate suspicious betting activity and protect the integrity of esports competitions.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Victoria police and other law enforcement agencies to safeguard esports.”

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