Integrity takes centre stage after Valve skins move

Integrity takes centre stage after Valve skins move

Friday, September 16, 2016 Posted by Totally Gaming
Betting on Sports panels address issues around player education

The issues around integrity in eSports have not diminished despite the moves by the publisher of CS:GO to clamp down on unofficial skin gambling sites which have taken place during the summer, according to panellists talking at the Betting On Sports conference in London this week.

Valve issued cease-and-desist letters in July which warned off popular skin-betting sites and is commonly believed to have shrunk the market by over 60% in the subsequent weeks.

Ian Smith, integrity commissioner at the eSports Integrity Commission, said that the significance of the move couldn’t be understated and had certainly suppressed a majority of the activity in skin gambling. “But of course people are looking at how you get around that because they see some potential,” he told the audience.

“I’m personally very sceptical of that because if you did enter the regulated space with a skins offering, a lot of the traditional skins gambler were underage. There were also multiple accounts and also a very significant part of the market was based in the US.”

Panellists agreed, however, that integrity issues with eSports would continue to have a prominence after the Valve skins crackdown and that similar issues affecting real sports had a resonance.

Speaking on a previous panel, James Watson, head of eSports at Sportradar, said that issues of integrity were being addressed by his company, in partnership with ESL and also in conjunction with ESIC.

“We have our well respected Fraud Detection System that monitors betting across the world on ESL tournaments, we integrate individual bet ticket information from our Managed Trading Services into our analyses and we also worked with ESIC to develop a bespoke education workshop that we delivered together this year and will roll out to players and teams again at upcoming events,” he said. “Only with a multi-pronged solution can you have certainty over the integrity of the game.”

One major issue highlighted by Smith at ESIC was that more work needed to be undertaken with the players to educate them about the risks. He pointed to the work being undertaken by his organisation in conjunction with Sportradar to conduct some outreach at the bigger tournament.

“This work has just started,” he said, noting that the two organisations conducted their first sessions at a tournament in Katowice in Poland earlier this year. “Live events are relatively rare in eSports, so we are in the process of developing an online education programme with Sportradar which will launch later this year. Education is the front line deterrent.”

Smith added though that the industry still needed to further understand the value of having properly instituted integrity programmes. “Everybody wants integrity, but nobody wants to pay for it,” he added.

This concern extends to the data. Watson noted that Sportradar monitors circa 500-plus bookmakers of which around 70 to 80 offer eSports. “Ten might have a trading team, another 20 will have providers but then the rest will be free-loading. That can cause some real data concerns,” he added.

A big issue remains the latency in data provision which panellists said caused problems for those offering in-play betting. Peter Ivanov, head of eSports at UltraPlay, said: “Latency in eSports make it difficult for both players and traders,” he said. “There is latency of two minutes or more on some streams. You can’t bet on that.”

Totally Gaming says: Skins gambling might now be on its way out, but there are enough integrity issues for the eSports industry to be getting on with. The programme being put together by ESIC and Sportradar is a good way of pushing issues to the foreground. Education will be key for all stakeholders, from the players through to the publishers, the teams and the bookmakers, and everyone can benefit from establishing best practice in a growth area.

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