FBI eSports corruption probe could derail NJ eSports bill

It what is a setback of the entire eSports industry and in particular, potential eSports betting fans in New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) is conducting enquiries into the possibility that match-fixing has been taking place in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournaments. The investigation comes at a crucial time for the potential eSports betting industry in the Garden State, as lawmakers are yet to reconsider debate on the possibility of making the sport legal for betting.

While sports betting is up-and-running and well-established in New Jersey, eSports has been left out in the cold, with the Garden State’s laws stopping regulated online sportsbooks from offering betting markets and lines on competitive video gaming tournaments. The FBI probe is not going to win any friends for eSports betting from New Jersey lawmakers who have tried to pass eSports betting New Jersey Legalization Bill A637, but have not yet succeeded.

What the FBI eSports corruption investigation entails

Under the FBI investigation, a number of CS:GO professionals are having their studied for cases of match fixing in partnership with the eSports Integrity Commission (ESIC). Together, the partners are tracking down multiple match-fixing offenders in the first-person shooter game.

The genesis of the investigation into the match-fixing scandal first came to light around the same time as the investigation into coaches using a spectating bug in CS:GO to cheat. While the coach spectating bug was relatively easy by comparison to deal with through the use of technological methods, to uncover the matchmaking fiasco, however, ESIC is being required to use different and more methods. Hence, the involvement of the FBI.

ESIC Commissioner Ian Smith announced that the stakes involved here have escalated, with the sport standing at the precipice of being becoming a legal betting sport in the biggest market in the nation. The very integrity of eSports itself stands to be damaged.

 

The Commissioner stated that this isn’t simply a matter of a few players deciding to bet on the outcomes of their own matches. Rather, the Commissioner pointed out that some indiscreet betting agencies bribed teams to throw CS:GO matches, permitting a number of betting syndicates to make a profit on matches with foregone conclusions.  By turning to the FBI, ESIC sought to take advantage of the FBI’s role is the primary enforcement arm of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, more commonly referred to as the RICO act.

Clearly, ESIC is not messing around with the sport’s future. The RICO Act has been used previously to pursue prosecution of motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels, street gang ‘Latin Kings’ and the infamous Lucchese and Gambino crime families. The law was also used to uncover the identities of all 14 men that were connected to the Arab nation of Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Soccer Cup.

The Commissioner went on to explain; “We have very good corroborating evidence from Discord…chat logs of players that we’re going to ban for a very long time,” Mr. Smith said.

“To some extent, we’re working with law enforcement and the FBI, who only recently have had a sports betting investigative unit within the FBI. They’re good, but they’re inexperienced because sports betting has never been a big thing in America until recently, so everybody’s kind of finding their feet on that one. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to go public with this soon (announcing the perpetrators), within the next 10 days to two weeks” the Commissioner concluded.

We hope that ESIC and the FBI get the culprits soon and implement the full force of the law upon them. The future of fully legal online eSports betting in NJ is on the line.

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