ESIC’s Stephen Hanna: Building faith in esports integrity


Getting the esports industry well regulated and supervised has been a key step towards the sport gaining the integrity it needs to be a great gambling product. To discuss how the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) is accomplishing that goal, its chairman, Stephen Hanna, joined’s Stephanie Tower are the recent ASEAN Gaming Summit 2019.

Although ESIC doesn’t run its own esports operation, its quickly become the de facto governing body of many of the biggest leagues in the industry. “ESIC is essentially a member’s integrity body,” Hanna explained. “What that means is basically were made up of a membership of a variety of stakeholders within the industry, ranging from tournament operators, betting operators and also a lot of government bodies as well. What we do in the space is we impose a set of regulations on our members, and allow them to operate within a well thought out and well proven integrity framework. That’s something that is definitely a first in the industry, and it’s definitely something that’s very necessary for anybody looking to get into the space.”

To get the industry to the point where it needs to be, ESIC is quickly growing, partnering with the key players who can make a difference. “A lot of our influence and a lot of our stakeholders are international operators, ESL being one of them, the largest tournament operator in the world,” Hanna noted. “We have a few government bodies as well that are members that are only ever growing. So what we’re looking to do at the moment is also expand the influence into Asia as well.”

The esports industry needs to guarantee its integrity because so much is pinned on that quality. Hanna listed some of the things at stake.:

“Makes the investments within the industry secure. It protects our youth, which are probably the largest component of the industry in terms of audience. And also obviously it allows standardization across what’s traditionally a very fragmented industry.”

That fragmentation, with many operators and different games, would seem on the surface to be a hard thing to police. When Tower asked about it, the answer from Hanna seemed elegantly simply. “That goes back to the membership model,” he replied. “We’re bringing everybody in to a central membership, and we’re allowing everybody to exist within a central framework that they’ve all agreed to be bound by. And what that does is essentially, it actually eliminates the fragmentation. So everybody that’s part of our ecosystem, and part of our integrity framework, is outside of that fragmentation, and they can experience the benefits of a standardized level of regulation.”

As the sport proves its integrity and gains more respectability, it will start making waves in the gambling space. But first, the public needs to learn more about the product. “The only issues that exist at the moment are, not very many people understand the esports space well, and I think that’s definitely a prerequisite to entry in any industry, not just esports, understanding it well,” he explained. “And also the other thing as well that most people fail to acknowledge is that, in order to enter esports, you have to actually also have an informed integrity framework.”