NBA 2K League Esports Team Kicks Out Player Over Insider Information Betting Scandal

Posted on: September 13, 2019, 02:53h. 

Last updated on: September 13, 2019, 03:32h.

Heat Check Gaming (HCG), a prominent Florida-based esports team sponsored by the Miami Heat, has ditched one of its players for “providing inside information to an individual [he] knew was involved in betting on NBA 2K League games.”

The new NBA 2K20 game (pictured) has been slammed by fans for its over-reliance on gambling mechanisms, including pachinko and slot machines and roulette wheels. (Image: 2K Sports)

HCG said that while Basil Rose, known as 24K Dropoff, had not “attempted to fix or otherwise improperly participate in any NBA 2K League games,” he had violated the league’s anti-gambling policies.

There is no legal gambling on esports anywhere in the US, which suggests the unspecified betting activity took place at an unregulated offshore sports book.

It’s the latest in a slew of gambling scandals that have dogged competitive video gaming since the advent of esports betting – and the NBA 2K League is a pretty big deal.

NBA Gambles on Esports

The league is, of course, based on the wildly popular basketball video game series of the same name. Launched in 2018 with the official backing of the National Basketball Assn. (NBA) and game publisher 2K Sports, it’s made up of esports teams that each represent a real-life NBA team.

The league plays a five-month season that mirrors its real-life counterpart, and the NBA handles ticket sales, broadcasting rights, and sponsorship deals.

Montreal-based Rose, whose bio has now been removed from the NBA 2K League website, was a power forward for HTC, which finished as the runner-up in the league’s inaugural season, earning $100,000 for the team after losing to Knicks Gaming in the final round of playoffs.

Having embraced esports through the NBA 2K League — and ultimately regulated sports betting in the US after years of resistance — a possible offshore gambling scandal is the last thing the NBA needs.

NBA 2K20 Dissed

Ironically, the latest incarnation of the NBA 2K video game series, NBA 2K20, was slammed on its release last week because it’s packed full of gambling mechanisms and micro-transactions, leading to calls that gamers, who have already shelled out more than $50 for the game itself, were being exploited.

The game’s “MyTeam” mode allows players to buy content with real-world money and contains mini-games in the style of pachinko and slot machines, roulette wheels, ball-drop games, and card games.

This triggered a backlash among gamers, prompting popular YouTuber Joe Vargas to complain that 2K Sports had put “a casino in my basketball game.”

The trailer on the 2K Sports YouTube channel showcasing this part of the game has so far generated almost 30,000 dislikes.