Australia’s Victoria Police have made multiple arrests in an alleged Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match-fixing scheme. A press release, issued late last week, says they were tipped off by a company that took some of those bets. In all over 20 suspect wagers were uncovered, leading to six arrests.
Players allegedly arranged to throw matches and subsequently placed bets on those matches, according to police.
“It’s believed at least five [league] matches were impacted,” says a police statement. The investigation is still ongoing.
Gambling is a popular pastime in Australia. Data published in 2018 indicates that, on average, adult Australian adults wager nearly AU$11,000 each on an annual basis. Adjusted to U.S. dollars, that’s roughly $7,500 per person, per year. Not coincidentally, that also means Australians lose more money than gamblers anywhere else in the world; a staggering AU$23.7 billion in losses, or the equivalent of about $850 for each Australian adult in today’s U.S. dollars.
Given the preponderance of gambling in Australia, the industry itself is highly regulated. Two organizations are involved in the investigation, including the Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit. While police action involving sports betting is not uncommon, esports is a new frontier in Australia. Commissioner Neil Paterson said it was a “first of its kind” investigation.
“Esports is really an emerging sporting industry and with that will come the demand for betting availability on the outcomes of tournaments and matches,” Paterson 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.”
Those arrested range in age from 19 to 22 years old. None were named in the press release. The agency who cooperated with police is called Sportsbet, and maintains an online portal available to Australians who want to gamble on esports. Polygon has reached out for comment.