Seven esports athletes have been suspended for placing bets on matches, including some matches in which they competed.
The suspension will last 12 months and was announced by The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), the body responsible for the prevention and investigation of cheating in esports.
The seven players are all Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) players from the Mountain Dew League (MDL) in Australia and they will be banned from all competitive CS:GO organised or promoted by members of ESIC, such as leading global competition organisers ESL, DreamHack, WePlay and Blast.
The seven players are Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi, Daryl “Mayker” May, Akram “akram” Smida and Corey “netik” Browne, Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic, Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys and Joshua “jhd” Hough-Devine.
However, ESIC did not reveal which of these players placed bets on their own matches.
Similarly to other popular sports such as football, esports athletes are not allowed to place any bets on matches of their own sport. This is because betting encourages corruption and match fixing.
There are several football stars who have been caught betting on matches, including Tottenham player Andros Townsend, who famously faced a £18,000 fine and four-month ban in 2013 for breaching FA gambling rules.
ESIC reminded professional esports players that betting on events could be a major fraud and integrity risk for the sport, saying “it is crucially important that professional players (at the very least) abstain from placing bets on the game in which they earn an income from in order to preserve the integrity of the esports landscape internationally and mitigate the potential for bad actors to take advantage of our sport.”
The integrity body also referred the matter to Australian law enforcement, which may take action itself.
What do we think?
While it’s disappointing to see these players risk their careers and the integrity of esports in a scandal like this, we are pleased to see the ESIC being transparent. We’re curious about how exactly these players bet – did they purposely stake against themselves and flunk matches in order to make big bucks? Further investigations could lead to an answer to this.
The 12 month ban and public naming-and-shaming seems like an appropriate punishment and deterrent for future offenders. If we see repeat crimes or if this happens more frequently on a larger scale like we’ve seen in Football, perhaps harsher punishments will be rolled out, such as monetary fines or outright bans from the sport altogether.