Five men from the Australian State of Victoria have been charged with fixing matches as part of Australia’s first ever esports criminal investigation. The men, who could face up to 10 years in prison, were officially charged last week by Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit detectives.
In a 2019 story, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that police were investigating whether some semi-pro players were intentionally losing esports games for profit. Assistant Commissioner Neil Patterson told the ABC current affairs program 7.30 that police suspect players had won up to $30,000 wagering on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive games in the ESEA-Mountain Dew League.
Police charged a 20-year-old Mill Park man with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts or has the potential to corrupt the outcome of a bet and two counts of using corrupt conduct information for the purposes of betting. The same man was also charged with possession of cannabis.
Police also charged two other Mill Park men and a South Morang man, all 20 years of age, with three counts of using corrupt conduct information for the purposes of betting. A 27-year-old Sale man also faces charges on five counts of using corrupt conduct information for the purposes of betting.
All five men have court dates scheduled in September in and around Melbourne. Assistant Commissioner Neil Patterson noted that most of the men had attended school together and have no history with police.
The corruption charges are the first ever in the Australian esports world. Esports are quickly gaining popularity in Australia and across the globe, partially due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused most sports to temporarily suspend operations. The NBA, NHL, MLS, and EPL have all hosted esports tournaments featuring real players.