Detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) in Victoria, Australia have 'charged two men on summons in relation to an investigation into suspicious betting activity around an esports league', specifically China's Premier League of Legends circuit, the LPL. The men, who hail from Kingsville and Brooklyn in Victoria, have been charged with two separate offenses related to match fixing in the LPL.
According to the SIIU, the investigation was sparked after police received word from a betting agency about activity linked to a number of matches on 8 June of last year in the LPL. The statement says that "it's alleged that players were arranging to throw matches", which implies there may be pro players involved as well, with detectives claiming they believe "a number of matches were impacted". The men are due in court on September 26, 2022.
One of the accused, neither of whom has been named, has been charged with “use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes” while the other was charged with “engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency.” If the two are found guilty for their offenses, they could face up to 10 years in jail.
Strong relationships between police and stakeholders
“The Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit has previously investigated suspicious activity linked to esports betting and it remains an area of focus for us,” Detective Acting Superintendent Wayne Woltsche of the State Intelligence Division said in the press release on the case. “We’ve developed strong relationships with a number of esports stakeholders and betting agencies, and we’ll continue to work together to target any suspicious activity.”
The police did not reveal which games were a part of the “suspicious betting activity”, simply that they received the information on June 8th of 2021, meaning the matches must have been before then.
Match-fixing has become an issue for esports as the scene has grown. Most recently, Cloud9 CS:GO player Abay “HObbit” Khasenov came under fire for allegations related to a spot-fixing scandal dating back to 2017. DAS Woltsche stated in the Victoria case press release that “It’s important that people understand these are significant criminal offenses with substantial penalties, and these charges show that we will take any reports of suspicious activity seriously.”
The Chinese League of Legends is no stranger to this topic. Last year, the LPL and the LDL, the LPL’s academy league, punished 38 pros for their involvement with or affliation to match-fixing, with 12 receiving life-long bans. LGD mid laner Chen “Jay” Bo has also received a permanent ban for match-fixing recently in April 2021.
Disclaimer: An earlier edition of this article stated the games were played on June 8, which we now believe to be incorrect based on the language in the police statement.