Match-fixing is the biggest fear in the sports and esports gambling industry. After all, fixed matches ruin the integrity of sports and bring more hatred toward the betting industry.
Some leagues and competitions are virtually untouched by this problem.
You never hear much about the NFL, NBA, or Premier League suffering from gambling-based corruption for example.
Esports, on the other hand, does have a problem with this matter. In fact, Australia just recently took down a large match-fixing ring.
This recent event makes it seem like esports are in more trouble than ever. However, you’ll see that the penalty for esports match-fixing may serve as a major deterrent for this type of crime.
Australia Takes Down Esports Match-Fixing Ring
Australia’s Victoria Police took down a match-fixing scheme that revolved around the popular esport Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Authorities were tipped off by a betting site that accepted some of the wagers.
20 suspects were rounded up in all, with six being arrested.
The Victoria Police are still investigating the matter. However, they currently believe that at least five CS:GO matches were affected by this betting scandal.
This issue is of particular importance to Australia because its citizens wager around AU$11,000 per year. Each adult loses roughly AU$1,200 of this amount annually.
The Land Down Under heavily regulates its gambling industry as a result.
Not surprisingly, two different organizations are investigating the match-fixing scandal, including the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit and Victoria Police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit.
Does Esports Have a Serious Match-Fixing Problem?
Both units have investigated similar crimes involving sports gambling in the past. But as Commissioner Neil Paterson noted, esports corruption is a “first of its kind.” He believes that such scandals could become a bigger problem in the future.
“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.”
Assuming more match-fixing does arise, it will likely deal with a younger crowd. The arrested players all range from 19 to 22 years old.
The Victoria incident is far from the only betting drama that esports has experienced. One of the most famous scandals to hit gaming involved “Life” Lee Seung-Hyun.
Why Are Esports Such Hotbeds for Corruption?
Esports are similar to tennis in that professionals experience a wide disparity in pay. Some of the top CS:GO, Dota 2, and League of Legends players earn millions of dollars per year.
However, lower-tier pros and/or those who specialize in small-market games may not even earn enough to get by. These gamers are more susceptible to bribes from syndicates.
Besides pay disparity, another problem is that most esports gambling is unregulated. Everything from traditional esports betting to skins gambling is served by offshore bookmakers.
This lack of regulation leads to bettors who can anonymously place wagers and work deals out with players.
They have fewer chances of getting caught because they’re doing all of this in a non-sanctioned environment.
Even the players themselves have plenty of opportunities to engage in match-fixing. They can simply bet on themselves, like in the Victoria story, and throw matches afterward.
Of course, the vast majority of esports matches are completely legitimate.
These are professional players who’ve worked hard to get where they are, meaning they’re not apt to throw matches.
This threat will continue as long as the market remains unregulated.
What Can You Do to Stay Away From Fixed Esports Matches?
You definitely don’t want to wager on esports matches that are fixed. After all, you’re guaranteed to lose your money by betting on the wrong side of a match.
Below, you can see some important tips for staying away from potentially corrupt markets.
Limit Your Bets on Small Markets
Most match-fixing occurs in smaller markets with less liquidity. Criminal syndicates, or even the players themselves, have a higher chance of pulling off a fixed match in less liquid markets.
You should ignore some of the most popular esports and/or less heralded leagues to avoid this problem.
Of course, doing so may cut out some of your favorite games.
Assuming you still want to wager on less liquid markets, then you should make smaller bets. Lower wagers will reduce your exposure to potential corruption.
Be Wary of Teams From Certain Countries
As unfair as it may be to point out, certain countries produce more match fixers on average than others.
Looking at sports in general, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, and Slovakia are some of the nations that have had problems with this.
I’m certainly not saying that every player and team from these countries has the potential to throw events. But you should be aware that some of these nations, as well as others, see a lot of match-fixing for whatever reason.
Make Sure Players Have Something to Compete For
As mentioned earlier, low pay is one of the biggest drivers of esports corruption. Those who don’t feel they make enough money are more likely to accept extra compensation through bribes or throw matches themselves.
Meanwhile, pros who makes six or seven figures per year have far less reason to engage in illegal betting activities.
These players won’t risk their lofty salaries and endorsement deals for small gambling-based payouts.
You have very little chance of running into match-fixing when wagering on the biggest events.
Esports definitely has some potential for match-fixing when looking across the board. Stories involving the recent Victoria bust and Lee Seung-Hyun show that this problem can crop up at any time.
The six players who were arrested by the Victoria Police show how easy it can be to cheat. If not for the sportsbook where they wagered at, the CS:GO players might have gotten away with their crimes.
Victoria Commissioner Paterson noted that esports match-fixing is new to them.
Past incidents show that esports corruption has always existed at some level. It can even occasionally affect top players and games, such as when Lee Seung-Hyun threw matches.
One problem with esports is that pros are paid very differently depending upon their status and the game in question.
The highest-paid pros are unlikely to throw matches. However, low-profile gamers can be more susceptible to bribes.
Another issue is the low liquidity of certain markets. Games like Smite and Super Smash Bros. don’t draw as much betting action. Criminal syndicates and the players can have more control over how the betting action goes as a result.
Luckily, you can reduce the chances of wagering on corrupt matches by avoiding small markets.
At the very least, you can reduce your bet sizes with such games.
You might also avoid betting on players/teams from certain countries. Some nations seem to produce a larger number of match fixers.
Finally, you can nearly eliminate the chances of betting on corrupt matches by making sure the pros are competing for decent money. You’ll have no trouble in this department when gambling on esports’ biggest events.
More regulation in the betting industry could definitely help solve some match-fixing problems. Regulation will grow across more countries and states within the near future.
For the time being, you should take extra precautions to ensure that you don’t wager on fixed matches. Assuming you follow the tips covered here, then you should have little trouble with this.