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ESIC Publicly Addresses False Narrative That the Commission Works for the Esports Betting Industry

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SIS awarded ESIC Gold Standards accreditation for Competitive Gaming offering
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The Esports Integrity Commission has, over the past few years, mistakenly been accused of working for the esports betting industry or being an organisation formed by the betting industry for the betting industry’s purposes. Whilst we have historically tried to address this misconception privately, it has now surfaced again in a way that damages the integrity of esports and the Commission in a way that needs to be publicly addressed.

 

BACKGROUND CONTEXT OF STATEMENT

First: In Nevada a Bill being sponsored through the State Senate by Senator Ben Kieckhefer, SB 165, seeks to establish an Esports Commission for the regulation of esports related activities in the State. In the sponsoring process, the Judiciary Committee considering SB 165 were told that ESIC, (who has worked with the Nevada Gaming Control Board since 2016 and was a founding member of the Nevada Esports Alliance) was in favour of the Bill. This is false. ESIC opposes SB 165 and has now taken steps to provide explanations to the Committee relating to its position. However, quite apart from certain parties purporting to speak on our behalf without authority, an underlying narrative emerged that: ‘ESIC’s views should be dismissed because the Commission is a servant of the betting industry’.

Second: The same false narrative was put forward to the Entertainment Software Association (“ESA”), the body representing most video game publishers and developers and all of those who publish titles prominently used in esports, by some of its members urging the ESA not to engage with ESIC because ESIC was alleged to “work for the betting industry”.

Third: Disaffected players banned by ESIC for betting related offences and some of their supporters have been reported to be coordinating a broad effort to spread this same false narrative that ESIC works for and serves the betting industry in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of competitive integrity in esports. This coordinated effort has been reported to ESIC to include rhetoric such as ‘ESIC falsely asserting certain matches are fixed so that the betting operators don’t have to pay out the winning bets on those matches’. This is both an ignorant and damaging narrative not only to ESIC but to the integrity of esports broadly. Such assertions would be entirely antithetical to the purpose and demonstrated work ESIC has undertaken for the sake of competitive integrity in the esports industry for more than five years.

 

STATEMENT

Despite the differing points of origin and the various malicious motives of those propagating them, all of these narratives need to be addressed and resolved and so ESIC Commissioner, Ian Smith, has considered it prudent to make the following statements:

“ESIC is neither for or against betting on esports. We are not advocates for betting nor crusaders against it.

It is noted, however, that betting on esports is a form of entertainment for most bettors and drives sponsorship revenue and fan engagement for the esports ecosystem. Conversely, the existence of betting opportunities does also raise challenges including, of particular concern to ESIC and central to our mission, the incentive for punters to commit betting fraud by match-fixing. In this respect, our role is to protect the esports industry from that danger.

ESIC exists for the esports industry; primarily for the protection of the players who would be the first and main casualty of any match-fixing scandal (please refer to the detrimental effects that match-fixing has historically had on the competitive Starcraft2 esports scene following the 2015/16 match-fixing scandals in Korea).

When betting fraud is perpetrated, competitive integrity is tarnished (among other negative outcomes). Coincidentally, the legitimate esports betting industry also suffers loss when betting fraud is committed. Therefore, it is of common and synergistic interest to both the esports industry and the betting on esports industry to address the issue of match-fixing through ESIC.

In fact, it is impossible to combat match-fixing without working with the legitimate esports betting industry. Betting data is at the heart of determining whether or not a match might be fixed and betting data is the key evidence in any prosecution of a match fixer. Furthermore, every traditional sport works with the betting industry to combat match-fixing and relies upon such data in a similar manner. This approach is not unique to ESIC.

ESIC is a not for profit members association – we are owned by our members. We have two categories of membership: Our esports members (primarily Tournament Organisers) and our Anti-Corruption Supporters (primarily betting operators, but also government and state gambling regulators, law enforcement, monitoring companies, data providers and industry bodies). From a constitutional point of view, the two do not overlap. Only the Esports Members determine the strategic aims and priorities of ESIC. The Anti-Corruption Supporters participate in our Suspicious and Unusual Betting Alert Network in service of ESIC and our Esports Members. In other words, ESIC works with the betting industry on behalf of the esports industry; we do not work for the betting industry. Accordingly, this dynamic serves only to promote competitive integrity and legitimacy of esports competitions.

Contrary to some assertions, the betting industry does not use us to avoid making legitimate payouts. The primary benefit for betting stakeholders which engage with us is access to what our Suspicious and Unusual Betting Alert Network sees (a network which they also contribute data to).

Importantly, some players are asserting that their betting activity on the game that they play professionally was “innocent”. With respect, that is either naive or disingenuous. No traditional sport allows its professional participants to bet on the sport they play for a living. In the cases ESIC has dealt with, the players against whom we have taken action have bet on the game, league, tournament or match in which they have participated. There is no scenario in which this is acceptable and we will continue to prosecute players who do so where we have jurisdiction. At the highest level of any esports game, the players all know each other, have played with and against each other and have both inside information and the potential to influence each other in a way that gives them an unfair advantage in betting markets and undermines the perception of competitive integrity. In many countries it is also illegal or criminal. Consequently, we are unapologetic about our rule prohibiting betting on the game they play professionally or semi-professionally. This is for the protection of the esports ecosystem and the players in particular. It is not a service to the betting industry but a service to the esports industry broadly in the interest of youth protection, competitive integrity and commercial longevity.”

Conclusion

Individuals attempting to propagate the narrative that ESIC works for the betting industry either have their own adverse agenda or are naïve about the realities of betting and the relationship between esports and betting on esports.

ESIC accepts that the existence of betting in esports is a contentious matter for some people and that they would rather it didn’t exist, but that is not an excuse to ignore the challenges posed by its existence. Any extension of opposition to betting in esports which operates to prohibit or hamper ESIC from effectively engaging with and mitigating the issue of match-fixing through sourcing data from Anti-Corruption Supporters, however, should be entirely discouraged and expelled from the industry. The stark reality is that match-fixing poses a real and demonstrable threat to the youth, competitive integrity, and commercial viability of the esports industry globally. Accordingly, ESIC implores all stakeholders Interested in the common good of esports to work together to combat such threats. Indeed, that includes, of necessity, close cooperation, via ESIC, between the esports ecosystem and the esports betting industry.

 

NOTE: THIS STATEMENT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE INTENDED RELEASE RELATING TO THE AU CS:GO INVESTIGATION. A SEPARATE RELEASE WILL BE MADE RELATING TO THAT INVESTIGATION IN DUE COURSE.

eSports

BLAST and British Esports Team Up to Bolster UK’s Esports Industry During Landmark Year For the Industry

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BLAST, the global esports entertainment company, and British Esports, the national body for esports in the UK, have announced a strategic partnership during a landmark year for the UK industry.

This collaboration will focus BLAST and British Esports efforts on political lobbying, grassroots development, education, careers, and professional development. The partnership comes during a historic year for the UK esports industry, with a record number of tier one esports events taking place, helping to position the region as a global hub for esports and gaming.

With the UK holding an 6% share of the global esports market and the global sector expected to reach $1.6 billion by the end of this year, this partnership aims to capitalise on this momentum and foster further growth.
Robbie Douek, CEO of BLAST, said: “This partnership with British Esports is a pivotal step in our mission to support the esports ecosystem in the UK. By focusing on key pillars together, we aim to create a sustainable and inclusive environment that encourages growth and professional development at every level. This year alone, the world’s biggest game publishers are choosing the UK as a destination for their esports ecosystems and arena events, helping position the region as a global hub for esports and big-scale events.

This partnership with British Esports will allow us bridge the gap between tier one arena events and grassroots esports.”
Chester King, CEO of British Esports, said: “2024 is a landmark year for esports in the UK as we host some of the most iconic global esports events.

This is an incredible opportunity to leave a legacy from grassroots to professional that promotes the UK as a leading global destination for esports. That is why we were thrilled when Robbie and the team at BLAST visited our National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland earlier this month to finalise our partnership. This collaboration between two leading British esports organisations will not only help to solidify the UK as a leading hub for esports but also ensure that we are nurturing the next generation of talent and providing them with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.”

The partnership comes in a month where London is set to host two tier one esports arena events in consecutive weeks, with the BLAST Premier Spring Final taking place in Wembley Arena this week and the RLCS London Major in Copper Box Arena next week. These combined events will see more than 25,000 fans watch live esports events in-person in the United Kingdom in June alone.
To mark the launch of the partnership, Robbie Douek, CEO for BLAST, recently met Dave Martin, SVP for British Esports, for a tour of the National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland.

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eSports

Intel® Extreme Masters Cologne 2024: All 16 teams set to compete in the 10 year anniversary event

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From August 10 – 18, 16 top Counter-Strike (CS) teams will battle it out during Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Cologne 2024 for a share of the $1,000,000 prize pool, a win in the race to secure the Intel® Grand Slam V, and the coveted trophy. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the full lineup of teams competing in the celebratory event.

IEM tournaments are the pinnacle of esports competition for players worldwide and are at the heart of excitement for fans from around the globe. This year, we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary at the LANXESS arena as the final three days of IEM Cologne 2024 will once again take place in the iconic and packed-out arena in Cologne, Germany.

Also dubbed the Cathedral of Counter-Strike, the event’s significance lies in its long-lasting traditions and ability to consistently deliver legendary moments. This year, everyone is invited to go on a trip down memory lane and to experience the world’s best CS teams to-date playing CS2 for the first time on stage in Cologne.

The teams competing at IEM Cologne 2024 are:

  • Team Spirit (IEM Katowice 2024 winner)
  • FaZe Clan (IEM Chengdu 2024 winner)
  • MOUZ (ESL Pro League Season 19 winner)
  • G2 Esports (IEM Dallas 2024 winner)
  • Team Vitality (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • Natus Vincere (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • Astralis (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • Virtus.pro (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • ALTERNATE aTTaX (Online Qualifier Germany)
  • HEROIC (ESL World Ranking Europe)
  • Eternal Fire (ESL World Ranking Europe)
  • Team Falcons (ESL World Ranking Europe)
  • Complexity Gaming (ESL World Ranking North America)
  • 9z Globant (ESL World Ranking South America)
  • The MongolZ (ESL World Ranking Asia)
  • FlyQuest (ESL World Ranking Oceania)
  • Team Liquid (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • Imperial Esports (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • FURIA Esports (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • BIG (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • BetBoom Team (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • paiN Gaming (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • MIBR (ESL World Ranking Global)
  • SAW (ESL World Ranking Global)
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eSports

SIS strengthens bet365 partnership with global launch of eSoccer product

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SIS strengthens bet365 partnership with global launch of eSoccer product
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Operator significantly enhances content offering around the world

SIS (Sports Information Services), the leading content supplier of 24/7 live betting services, has agreed a landmark deal with long-term partner, bet365, to deliver its comprehensive eSoccer portfolio across all regulated markets and boost the renowned operator’s global offering.

The integration of the complete suite of H2H Global Gaming League™ eSoccer matches will see bet365 benefit from the increase in betting opportunities which are proven to maximise engagement and margin.

The agreement considerably strengthens SIS’ Competitive Gaming offering across the globe with eBasketball already live. The addition of eSoccer contests means more than 150,000 events will now be available on the world’s leading sports betting operator’s online platform.

Built specifically for sportsbooks, SIS’ H2H Global Gaming League™ is proven to deliver superior margins, adding as much as 10% in value to operators. Professional gamers take part in all eBasketball and eSoccer matches which are produced entirely in-house at SIS’s UK-based secure studios.

Competitive Gaming is the only product available on the market to have been awarded the Esports Integrity Commission’s (ESIC) Gold Standards. The highest possible accreditation created to set unmatched levels of integrity and safety in the industry, it has trained referees overseeing every contest.

Paul Witten, Managing Director EMEA at SIS, said: “We are very pleased to launch our eSoccer product as part of our long-term partnership with bet365.

“It is evident that customers have taken to our fast-paced, highly competitive short-form action and engage with the many available betting opportunities and we expect this to continue with the integration of our complete Competitive Gaming offering across regulated markets.”

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