As esports continues to grow in popularity among bettors across the world, stakeholders need to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect integrity for the sport.
This is a multi-step process and one that requires real collaboration, Amir Mirzaee, Bayes Esports’ Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) & Managing Director, explained.
Mirzaee sat down with SBC News to discuss the work that Bayes Esports is doing to set the highest possible standards for integrity across the esports space, before highlighting the benefits for working within the white market for betting operators.
SBC: As an industry, how do we best protect against integrity breaches?
AM: Protecting integrity in the esports sector requires various steps. Establishing and enforcing clear codes of conduct for players, coaches and all stakeholders is imperative. Additionally, implementing technologies, such as AI, to detect anomalies in player behaviour and betting patterns can be instrumental.
And last but not least: collaboration between industry stakeholders, including tournament organisers, game developers and data providers is vital to create a unified front against integrity breaches.
SBC: In your view, is it possible to introduce a standardised set of practices across global markets to ensure that the esports industry upholds the highest possible standards?
AM: Achieving standardised practices globally is an ambitious goal for a young industry. Collaborations between international esports organisations, regulatory bodies, and industry leaders can provide a pathway to achieve this goal.
Establishing a framework for ethical conduct, data handling and age-related considerations can also help to ensure consistent standards across markets. However, these standards would need to be adapted to regional differences and local legal requirements. Not taking these into account would reduce acceptance and industry-wide compliance.
SBC: We’ve seen a lot of discussions around the increasing threat posed by black market/grey market companies within the esports space, particularly those that scrape data from broadcasts. Why is it so important that the esports industry prioritises the use of official data when working with betting operators?
AM: Its importance is due to the risk that grey market operators, specifically those scraping data from public broadcasts, pose to the integrity of esports competitions as well as to the bettors and the operators. Official data, sourced directly from game servers, guarantees accuracy, timeliness and adherence to ethical standards.
Prioritising official data should be the standard practice of betting operators who want to not only ensure a higher quality of information but also mitigate the threat of fraudulent or risky activities. The prioritisation of official data is an important step to maintain the trust and integrity of operators and the broader esports community.
SBC: How can we best educate industry stakeholders (players, operators) on the benefits of the white market?
AM: First and foremost, different from traditional sports, an esport centres around a game title and that game title’s ecosystem belongs to someone. That game publisher itself and its chosen ecosystem players, such as ESL Face-it Group or BLAST as well as Bayes Esports, need to step forward and claim the white market space, as well as to push back the grey market. So far, the only games publisher in the world doing that is Riot Games and now slowly Ubisoft and Krafton are joining.
Educating industry stakeholders on the benefits of the white market is key to increasing awareness. We need to enable all white market players in the industry to take a stronger stance as well as the game publishers who also have a justified commercial interest in being compensated for their intellectual property.
It is crucial to communicate and emphasise the many benefits of official data such as reliability, accuracy, and ethical standards. Furthermore, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability within the industry can lead to greater acceptance and understanding of the benefits associated with official, white market data.
SBC: Do you believe that we can fully eliminate the threat from grey market operators, or will we need to adapt our approach as technology advances?
AM: Completely eliminating this threat is challenging, so I believe that adapting our approach is a better route to take. Technological advancements, coupled with innovative legal approaches, can significantly hinder the activities of grey market operators.
We should leverage both: technology and legal frameworks. The white market actors need to stay ahead of the game by evolving their strategies and ensuring the long-term integrity of esports data.