Esports, Betting, and Fraud

I remember 1998 like it was yesterday: a bunch of twelve-year-olds at a slumber party, crowded around the TV. We were gambling our allowances away to bet on the two players going toe-to-toe in what we then believed was the greatest video game ever created: GoldenEye 64. Countless Washingtons flew back and forth across the couch as we egged the players on–first round, pistols-only mode; second round, hands-only–cheering for the blocky characters slapping each other to death on the TV screen. My friends and I didn’t know it then, but we had just invented esports. 

Just kidding; the creation of esports was undoubtedly a generational effort. But the global success of what has since become a massive billion-dollar industry seemed as inevitable in 1998 as it does today. The competition, the hype, the betting, and the fervor of the fans have always been universal–and given the industry’s newest technological advances, gamers everywhere agree that we are currently living in gaming’s Golden Age.

Why Esports Will Continue to Rise in 2021

Esports is the term used to describe the world of competitive, organized video gaming [3]. Today, the latest in tech allows people all over the world to tune in live and root for their favorite players and teams. Amateur gamers, equipped with the latest streaming gear and social media savvy, can monetize their digital hand-eye coordination skills and achieve international glory, fame, and fortune. 

This industry is so lucrative for talented gamers that teams have consolidated into dedicated leagues and train with the intensity of a national Olympic squad. Like Olympians, esports gamers live with everything a sports superstar can ask for—a gaming house or dorm that also serves as their base or training ground, coaches who will further hone their gaming skills, and sponsorships who cover the overhead and help them reach a global fanbase [4]. On average, a player can earn upwards of $75,000 annually from paid subscriptions, sponsorships, ad revenue, and fans’ donations. Why work your way up the corporate ladder at a Fortune-500 when you can skydive out of a transport plane and systematically wipe out your enemies in Call of Duty: Warzone?

The rise of esports has been mindblowing–and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the esports industry went mainstream. Viewership and engagement have skyrocketed, and platforms that previously played to niche subcultures have become dominant new entrants into the social media landscape. The League of Legends (LoL) World Championships recorded 139 million hours in 2020. In June of that same year, esports companies generated $196.8 million in investments, bringing all disclosed assets in 2020 to $1.1 billion [9]. This growth will not only be sustained, but expand beyond 2021.

Esports Betting and Fraud

As with most sports, esports betting has accompanied the rise of esports proportionally. With most live sports canceled or suspended during quarantine in 2020, sports bettors took their dollars to the esports arena. A survey conducted by global consumer research agency 2CV and market research company ProdegeMR revealed that 22% of gamblers that haven’t tried betting on esports are now open to trying it. In comparison, 32% of esports bettors have actively explored new products to bet on [11]. In the same report, it was concluded that the recent uptick in betting will significantly contribute to the global esports market as a whole, which is expected to reach $3 billion by 2025.

Unfortunately, where there is money, there is the persistent threat of fraud. New research found that the gaming industry is the prime target of fraudsters armed with today’s digital technologies: 24.2% of fraudulent transactions were carried out by bots, while humans drove only 3.5%. 

Ravelin, a fraud detection and payment acceptance specialist, found that half of the online gaming companies surveyed saw a 52% increase in account takeover activity in the past year. Account takeover is one of the most common types of fraud the gaming industry is vulnerable to, wherein fraudsters gain access to a user’s account to steal funds [13]. 

Fraud is so severe that gaming companies are investing heavily to mitigate the risk of different types of gaming fraud. Activision Blizzard, an industry powerhouse, recently signed a multi-year partnership with Sportradar, a sports betting and sports entertainment products and services provider company [14]. Sportradar will provide an integrity program for Activision Blizzards’s premier esports competitions, the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League. The program will outline practices on preventing betting-related corruption.

TaskUs and Gamer Safety

TaskUs currently partners with one of the biggest brands in the gaming industry, providing customer support and creating a safe community for their gamers–including content security, account takeover prevention, and fraud prevention. We drew on our experience and expertise in fraud protection across multiple industries to help our partner client increase user safety.

Our client, a leading American video game developer, publisher, and platform, has been the unfortunate target of cybercriminals, with 77,000 of its players’ accounts hacked every month. To address this, our client sought an outsourcing partner who could do the following:

  • Verify hijacked accounts based on given standard guidelines; and 
  • Recommend improvements for the standard guidelines based on cases received.

When the client chose TaskUs, we immediately designed a robust content security solution to address the problem. We enhanced the client’s guidelines to clearly define and differentiate hacking, hijacking, spamming, and scanning, so Teammates could ask clear questions and consequently follow the guidelines set by the client. We also provided the value-added service of mapping out and analyzing hijacking trends on the client’s platform, complete with recommendations on how to resolve these issues. Our efforts have resulted in a 99.6% quality score and a 109% productivity score (content flagged per hour), with over 60,000 cases reviewed per month and a consistent cNPS score of 10/10.

Another client asked Us to help them strengthen their relationship with their customers, a weakness of their then-outsourcing partner. TaskUs has been able to exceed benchmark metrics while providing end-to-end support for our partner client. Part of the key to success was our TaskUs Content Security domain experts getting involved early on to guide decision making. By outsourcing these security concerns to us and focusing on their primary business tasks, our client’s revenue increased by 85%, from $800,000 in 2019 to a whopping $5.2 million in only the first quarter of 2021.

While cutting-edge technologies power TaskUs’s day-to-day business, we still rely on and trust our Teammates to make the crucial difference. The synergy between our technological capabilities and people sets us apart from the rest of our competitors.

If you want to know more about how we can help you keep your online community safe from different types of fraud, please pay us a short visit here.


References:

  1. Who Were The Roman Gladiators & How Did They Live? Plus 10 Famous Gladiators You Should Know
  2. Gambling at the Colosseum
  3. What is eSports? A look at an explosive, billion-dollar industry
  4. Why Is eSports So Popular? (What You Haven’t Considered)
  5. Esports Pro Gamers: How Much Do They Earn?
  6. Eldorado: How did the pandemic change the esports landscape?
  7. reading As The Pandemic Spread, So Did Esports
  8. 2020 LoL World Championship draws 3.8m peak viewers
  9. Digital Trend Outlook Esports 2020 – Investors – PwC
  10. Forbes Coronavirus Has Caused A Boom In Esports Betting
  11. Research shows growing interest in esports gambling | Prodege
  12. Gaming Industry Is Fraudsters’ Prime Target
  13. Gambling companies see significant rise in account takeover fraud
  14. Activision Blizzard Partners With Sportradar to Safeguard Esports Betting