The explosive growth of the esports industry has increased the number of opportunities for unethical or criminal behavior, such as match-fixing, doping, and other forms of corruption. Esports’ legitimacy can only be preserved through the implementation of additional regulations. The four regulatory initiatives listed below may receive more attention this year:
Betting on e-sports that are regulated is the path to legitimacy
The anticipated decision of the United States Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the federal prohibition on sports betting will have significant ramifications for both traditional and electronic sports. If the Supreme Court decides to overturn or modify the federal ban, it will be up to individual states to decide whether or not to allow sports betting and to establish their regulatory system. Esports currently fall outside of the state’s sports betting structure in Nevada, one of the few states exempt from the federal ban on sports betting and the hub of legal sports betting in the United States. Special legislation was required in Nevada to allow legal gambling on esports. Nevada is also one of the few states exempt from the federal sports betting ban. Esports should be included in the separate regulatory frameworks that each state has in place to provide adequate regulation.
How Blockchain-Based Games Will Proliferate
Legal gambling on esports is not possible in the United States because the majority of esports fans are minors and sportsbooks lack access to the data needed to create odds. Despite their widespread popularity elsewhere, esports betting websites such as Unikrn and Betway are not permitted to accept wagers in the United States. To circumvent this prohibition, Americans have resorted to betting on esports with digital in-game currency or cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, neither of which areis adequately regulated. This practice, however, is illegal in the United States.
The likelihood of esports betting becoming legal grows with each Supreme Court decision that either overturns or modifies the current federal ban. Traditional sportsbooks that also offer esports wagering, such as Unikrn, will see an increase in their customer base as more people become interested in betting on esports. Be prepared for other industries to be impacted by the legalization of esports betting, as oddsmakers and bettors will work to ensure that the matches they wager on are authentic and fair.
To put an end to match-fixing, education and rule enforcement are required
Match-fixing is likely to be one of the first areas that organizations and tournaments focus on addressing if esports betting is legalized. The esports industry has seen its fair share of match-fixing scandals. In 2015, 21 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) players were permanently banned following allegations of match-fixing. In March 2018, a professional Starcraft player and the owner of an illegal gambling website were arrested for tampering with a tournament match. The incident occurred in the game Starcraft.
The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), founded in 2015, is a non-profit organization that promotes honesty and integrity in the world of electronic sports and publishes an Anti-Corruption Code. The ESIC is primarily concerned with the video games CS: GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Starcraft.
To combat match-fixing, the European Sports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) is collaborating with sportsbooks, betting sites, and local state gaming agencies. If the Unikrn notices a large number of wagers on a heavy underdog for no apparent reason, they will report the suspicious betting activity to the ESIC so that match-fixing can be investigated. The ESIC and local gaming authorities, such as the Nevada Gaming Control Board, have reached an agreement under which the former will assist the latter in investigating unusual betting patterns and will exchange information.
Despite the importance of the ESIC’s work, there are simply too many esports leagues and events for the ESIC to successfully govern. Individual leagues, tournament operators, team owners, and game producers must therefore self-police match-fixing and educate their players on how to avoid being involved in corrupt activities.
Random drug testing of athletes to reduce doping
Esports players gain an unfair advantage by enhancing their focus and reflexes with performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. This is analogous to competitors in traditional sports consuming performance-enhancing drugs to grow stronger and faster. Similarly, to keep the sport legal, the officials in charge must ensure that the players do not use any illegal substances.
The Electronic Sports League (ESL), the industry’s most prominent tournament organizer, works with the Electronic Sports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) to conduct random drug testing at their events and follows the ESL’s Anti-Doping Policy. However, just as the ESIC is unable to conduct match-fixing investigations at every event, the ESL is unable to drug test every professional player in the industry at random.
Individual leagues, tournaments, and teams must ensure that they have regulations in place that require players to submit to random drug testing to combat the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Traditional sports league rules and regulations can be used as tested models for the efficient administration of anti-doping measures across a wide range of esports games and contests.
Data commercialization will result in privacy violations
As the esports industry grows, personal data such as players’ names, nicknames, and likenesses, as well as data on player performance, will become increasingly valuable. When leagues, tournaments, and club owners attempt to monetize this data by licensing it to third parties to make money, expect controversy around the privacy and ownership rights that players allegedly own in their data.
Because they are similar to the privacy and ownership concerns that many athletes have with biometric data that clubs and leagues receive via wearable devices, traditional sports spectators may recognize these issues. Without legislation addressing ownership and permissible use of the massive amounts of data generated by esports, there is a risk that league and team authorities will exploit young players.
Esports necessitate special regulations to thrive
With the exception of the ESIC, there is currently no national or international governing body for esports leagues. Because there are so many different types of esports, a single governing organization could never be fully effective. As a result, separate governing bodies for each electronic sport, such as the one that oversees players in CS: GO, should be established. Individual leagues, tournaments, and teams are also responsible for ensuring that their policies are consistently followed. As the industry expands, this type of specialized regulation will help to establish legitimacy and public appeal for the rapidly developing sport. This will help to increase the sport’s popularity.