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Ban for e-sports 'cheat' shows corruption risk that gambling operators must manage, says expert

A ban issued to a man who admitted to cheating at an e-sports championship event earlier this month should serve as a warning to gambling operators that they need to manage the risk of corruption in the growing e-sports betting market, an expert has said.19 May 2017

Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said the risk of corruption in e-sports has already been flagged by the Gambling Commission in Britain.

Rees-Gay was commenting after the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) announced that it had barred e-sports gamer Conner Huglin from all e-sports for two years after he confessed to "using a cheat/exploit" during the Mettlestate Samsung Galaxy CS:GO Championship earlier this month.

ESIC is a not-for-profit body whose members include e-sports companies and gambling regulators. It works to combat "integrity challenges" facing e-sports, including "match manipulation and betting fraud" and operates an anti-corruption code and disciplinary procedure to address those challenges.

ESIC said Huglin's cheating had gone "apparently undetectable" by anti-cheat software deployed by the gaming platform Valve.

Rees-Gay said: "E-sports is a growing area in the gambling market, and the Gambling Commission looked at ‘e-sports integrity’ in a position paper it released on virtual currencies, e-sports and social casino gaming in March.

"The paper sets out that the ‘betting industry should satisfy itself that competitions upon which markets are offered are effectively managed to mitigate the risk of corruption with its attendant consequences for their consumers’. Hopefully this incident will be a one-off, but it will be food for thought for British bookmakers as a consideration when looking to push into this growth area," he said.

In a statement, Ian Smith, ESIC's e-sports integrity commissioner, said: "It is always disappointing when someone cheats and it gives me no pleasure to ban a player, but cheating cannot be tolerated in e-sports – it fundamentally undermines the integrity and credibility of our industry. I hope this demonstrates that ESIC will deal quickly, decisively and proportionately with cheats following a fair process."