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Is Esports Developing A Corruption Problem?

Image via Stem List on Unsplash

Esportswhich is competitive, organized video gaming, is one of the hottest industries around right now.

It's estimated that by 2021, esports will have more viewers than every U.S. professional sports league except the NFL. With COVID-19 causing professional sports around the world to be put on hold, thus accelerating the growth of esports, this may come sooner rather than later.

Esports' audience has more than tripled since 2012, while global revenues surpassed $1 billion last year, according to Green Man Gaming. Over the same period, the amount of prize money awarded in esports has grown from just $12 million to nearly $200 million. The prize money is becoming so abundant that last year a 16-year old won $3 million after winning the Fortnite World Cup.

Like most things, when a lot of money is involved, the likelihood of people doing nefarious things increases. Esports, as it turns out, is no different.

According to a recent article from BNN Bloomberg, the esports industry has been hit with a wave of corruption as of late in the form of match-fixing, betting syndicates and cheating.

Last year, in Australia's first investigation into esports match-fixing, authorities allege six individuals deliberately lost matches after betting on themselves to lose. The individuals, who had been tracked by authorities for six months, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Elsewhere, a gamer who goes by the name "Forsaken" used software to cheat and improve his chances of winning a competition. In 2016, one of South Korea's top gamers—Lee "Life" Seung-hyun, was banned for life and sentenced to 18 months in prison for throwing matches.

"It won’t be possible to fully eliminate illegal betting and match-fixing," director of the Esports Integrity Commission Stephen Hanna said. "It’s about limiting its position in the market to the greatest extent possible."

Sweden even introduced a regulation that can result in fines for betting companies that offer odds on esports matches where the majority of the contestants are under the age of 18. The U.S. and Spain have enacted similar regulations.

As esports continues to grow and more money pours into the industry, it seems highly likely that more participants will continue to try to exploit competitions for their own monetary benefit. With major corporations rushing into the industry, however, the level of oversight and regulation in the esports industry is likely to grow as well.

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