Need for collective will as eSports industry grapples with unregulated gambling

Recent incidents have shown that there is a greater need to regulate the gambling industry within eSports and the remedial steps must come in the form of a collective effort from the entire eSports and gaming community.

In the last few days, a famous professional Dota 2 player has revealed that he received some ‘borderline’ death threats. The player is convinced that the death threats have been made to him by people who lost money betting.

Threats being made to famous eSports professional is not very new and there have been a few incidents related to it over the years. As the industry is becoming more established and proving the fact that it is a mainstay for the future, threats being made against players by people who lose money while betting is a cause for concern.

On 2 October, Jonas ‘SabeRLight’ Volek revealed on Twitter that he received some unsavoury messages that could be considered as borderline death threats. He also made the claim that the messages he received are nothing compared to the messages received by some of his friends. The messages were received on the back of a defeat that his team faced in a recent online tournament.

Following this incident, another Dota 2 player, Rasmus Johan ‘Chessie’ Blomdin, has also come out revealing that he received threats. He stated that he has been receiving threats after every alternate defeat his team suffers in tournaments.

In the past, there have been some other incidents that left most of the community quite ashamed of the behaviour displayed by a few. Way back in 2015, team Vici Gaming received ISIS videos in their inbox along with death threats. That same year, Peter ‘PPD’ Dager, who is now retired, had made an appeal for people to stop betting and making death threats to players. He felt betting always brought out the worse from people.

These incidents bring up the question, is betting a problem for the eSports industry?

Betting apps have been gaining popularity in recent years. They allow fans and enthusiasts alike to place bets on not just eSports, but even traditional sports matches. The system offers odds against various predictions and allow betting on more than just the final outcome of the matches. There are many other similar apps as well as apps that feature their own private games for betting. Online Poker is one such option that has gained some favour with the masses.

The cause for concern related to betting comes into the picture when people give in to the urge and decide to place bets involving large amounts of money. The online apps do little to limit such behaviour.

The other major concern is that of gambling/betting organisations fixing matches. In 2018, there was a major scandal involving an admin from VPGame, an organisation that specialises in skin gambling (a form of gambling that uses virtual goods, which are most commonly cosmetic goods and have no impact on gameplay as a currency for gambling).

VPGame are the sister organisation of the well-known LGD-Gaming club. The perpetrator was caught attempting to rig matches by persuading a ‘well-known’ South East Asian eSports team to throw matches for benefits. The incident was revealed through screenshots of the conversation.

When trying to decide whether betting is good or bad, it is rather easy to look at the situation in an overly simplistic manner and conclude it to be one of these two possibilities. In this writer’s opinion, the issue is a lot more complex. Many factors need to be looked at. There are several benefits to betting and gambling operations, including the increase in popularity in brings to the eSport due to the increase in involvement for the fans.

While gambling remains legal in most countries, there are still a number of countries that have decided to do away with it altogether. A few countries who have taken steps to ban it include UAE, Japan, Cambodia, Brunei, Singapore, Qatar, Poland, Cyprus, Lebanon and North Korea.

Need for collective will as eSports industry grapples with unregulated gambling

Representational photo. Image credit: Twitter/@ESL

The issue is not as much about gambling as it is about the lack of regulations and restraint shown by some parties involved. Going forward, it is important to find methods to reduce the damage caused by these individuals. The first and most important issue that should be addressed is the need to ensure safety and peace of mind for players. This includes prompt action against those threatening the players or teams as well as the need to reduce the temptation for players to play outside the spirit of the game.

The first step in this direction would be to educate players as well as the support staff about the downsides of taking part in activities that defile the spirit of the game. Other measures could include making it necessary for people to identify themselves even for online betting and limiting the maximum amount of money and number of bets allowed.

Recent incidents have shown that there is a greater need to regulate the gambling industry within eSports and the remedial steps must come in the form of a collective effort from the entire eSports and gaming community.

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