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Why The FBI Is Getting Involved In Esports

Cheating in video games isn't anything new. In fact, the act may be as old as the medium itself. Some undoubtedly used the "what's that over there?" trick while taking a friend on in Pong. And who never put the light gun right up against the TV to shoot the ducks in Duck Hunt? Who never once gave in to that temptation?


That type of cheating can be relatively harmless. Where it becomes more problematic, though, is when you get into competitive situations, such as with online multiplayer. Add money to the mix, and you open up a whole new can of worms. That's when the FBI might get involved, as it has recently with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene.

In an interview on the slash32 YouTube channel, Ian Smith — the head of the Esports Integrity Commission — got into the nitty gritty about an ongoing investigation in the world of pro CS:GO.  According to Smith, his group is now working with the FBI to look at alleged "match-fixing" taking place in the North American Mountain Dew League, often referred to as the MDL. What makes this revelation all the more fascinating is that Smith claims players aren't hatching these schemes themselves. They aren't collaborating with one another in order to take a few losses and split the earnings. Instead, Smith says some players are "being bribed by outside betting syndicates in order to fix matches."


In that regard, what's happening in the MDL isn't unlike a rigged boxing match, where a fighter might be paid to take a dive. Because there's an active betting scene around pro Counter-Strike matches — and because the competition now appears to be influenced in some way by outside money — the FBI is on the case. This likely means all involved in the match-fixing could face some incredibly severe penalties as a result. Not the kind where they'll be forced to fight their way out of the Gulag. Wait, that's a different game. No — real actual jail could be a potential outcome for some of these pro players and those allegedly funding them.

Smith, for the record, says he has evidence ready to share, and could possibly do so in the weeks ahead. With the FBI now involved, however, it could be weeks before he's able to make that information public. There's no telling how this will ultimately shake out, and how the Mountain Dew League might be affected going forward. In the meantime, some pro Counter-Strike players in the MDL may want to find themselves some lawyers.