MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s newly appointed sports integrity boss has said he will work with the nation’s esports industry in the fight against betting-related corruption after police revealed they had charged five men for match-fixing in online gaming.
Detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in southern Victoria state announced the charges on Sunday, alleging that players in Melbourne and regional towns threw matches they had bet on during a gaming tournament last year.
David Sharpe, who from mid-year will head Sport Integrity Australia, a new government agency merging anti-corruption and anti-doping bodies, said he was mindful of the potential threat organised crime posed to esports given its interest from betting markets.
“I had early discussions with a former (esports) CEO around integrity within their sport and I am looking forward to engaging with them in my new role to work around the potential risks and threats,” Sharpe told The Australian newspaper.
“I think there will be discussions to do that, particularly given our access to global intelligence.”
Global interest in esports has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced traditional sports to temporarily shut down.
Major sporting leagues, including the National Basketball Association in the United States and soccer’s English Premier League have staged esport tournaments featuring professional players in home isolation.
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(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)