YouTubers plead guilty to FIFA gambling offences

Remember back in September when those two geezers were charged with operating an illegal gambling firm and advertising unlawful gambling, using the digital currency of FIFA 16 to let folks bet on real world football games? You do, because you have a prodigious memory. Well, that pair had been pleading not guilty to all charges, but now they’ve changed their plea to guilty, the BBC report.

Craig Douglas, 32, who makes YouTube videos about FIFA under the name NepentheZ, was charged alongside his business partner Dylan Rigby, 33, under the UK Gambling Act. It’s the first case to tackle the problem of videogame currencies being used in real-world gambling. If you want to know exactly how this worked in terms of FIFA’s coins, the BBC have a good 1-minute video explaining it.

Basically, websites have appeared which allow players to buy and sell their FIFA coins (including some sites run by the accused, and which are still operating). Players could then use a different website owned by the pair, called FUT Galaxy, to place bets on real-world football matches. You could then put your coins back into the game or “cash out” by selling them. NepentheZ also promoted these websites in his videos (without saying he was the co-owner), which is why the pair also faced charges of advertising unlawful gambling.

This gambling website, FUT Galaxy, has since been shut down. However, its Spanish-language counterpart, FutGoles.com, is run by the same people and is still operating.

The prosecution was brought by the Gambling Commission, who have been looking into this type of gambling with game currencies after the controversy over CS:GO betting sites.

“We are paying close attention to the growing popularity of virtual or ‘in-game’ items, which can be traded, sold or used as virtual currencies to gamble,” a spokesperson for the Commission told Eurogamer last year. It looks like they really meant it.

Douglas, from Dorset, pleaded guilty to one charge of running a gambling firm without an operating license, and another charge of advertising unlawful gambling. Rigby, from Essex, pleaded guilty to two charges of providing facilities for gambling, and a charge of advertising illegal gambling. They are both yet to be sentenced.

From this site

17 Comments

  1. Stellar Duck says:

    Speaking as someone who has to deal with families with hundreds if not thousands of pounds wasted on this trash (and GTA money and COD poins and NWN Zen and NFL Points and fuck me the list goes on) each and every day, I wish they would just fucking ban any in game currency purchases and have done with it. All of it.

    It’s blatantly exploitative and it quite literally ruins peoples economies with little Alfie buys 750 quid worth of shite on the store with no refund.

    Ban the lot of it (and skins for money on Steam) and have done with it. And take boxes, keys, crates and anything else with it. It’s a fucking plague.

    • purex. says:

      Hear, hear. Besides, the simplicity and instant gratification of it can sometimes drive even the most savvy to waste money on worthless bits, in a temporary state of denial called “tis-only-disposable-incomitis”.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Oh yes.

        Even I, with all my hate for the shit that goes on on Steam, have spent like 50p buying some cards just to get a dumb badge. And that was just 50p.

      • montfalcon says:

        I am also all for the abolishment of microtransactions in all their forms. They are never to the benefit of the players, regardless of intent. It’s a tacky way of gating content and milking the base for money.

    • OblivionCreator says:

      I’d like to respectfully disagree on the “ban the lot of it (and skins for money on Steam)”.

      I would argue that the parents are as much at fault as the child in this scenario – To be able to buy something in Steam you need to either

      a) Enter in valid CC/Debit/PayPal info – Which a kid who’s irresponsible enough to spend hundreds on videogames without consent should NEVER know

      b) The info is already entered into steam – Which again, if a kid’s young enough to spend hundreds on videogames without consent should NEVER be saved into steam – Steam doesn’t save info by default, and even then you have to enter the security code or password.

      And finally, most banks will do a chargeback if a child orders something without consent. Chances are, this will permanently ban the account the child purchased the item on (In this case, steam, for example) so it should only be used if they won’t issue a refund. (If the kid who bought the item is under 13, they shouldn’t even own a Steam account as in their ToS it says you have to be over 13 to use Steam. I doubt they’d refund anyway, even less likely if the kid is under 13.)

      Again – Not attacking you, just a disagreement

      Edit: Not saying these guys shouldn’t be punished. Running illegal gambling and advertising it illegally on a game based for kids is despicable.

      • grimdanfango says:

        As much as I think it’s important for any parent (and indeed anyone) to ensure they’re reasonably tech savvy these days, simply to avoid the worst of the scams and pitfalls, the actual responsibility shouldn’t be lumped on parents to ensure they’re tech savvy enough to prevent their kids falling foul of predatory, massively psychologically exploitative companies who make a specific point of targeting children. There should be consumer protections brought in to curb that behaviour in the first place… I wholeheartedly agree – the whole notion of ingame currencies is a plague, it absolutely *never* benefits the players of those games in any meaningful way, and should be banned outright.

      • trjp says:

        I’m with OblivionCreator – learning to understand the value of money, learning to understand what is and isn’t “valuable” and learning how not to get ripped-off is part of what parents should be doing for their kids – and kids losing their pocket-money is part of that process I’m afraid.

        Anyone giving their children access to larger sums (via registered cards or whatever they do this) was let-down by THEIR parents in the way they’re now letting their kids down (kids bringing-up kids – the 21st century problem) – maybe they need a wake-up now?

        Where this stuff goes wrong is where ‘virtual currency’ isn’t just usable in-game but can be gambled (illegal in most countries) and turned back into real money – that’s what’s going-on here and that’s what needs to be made difficult-if-not-outright-impossible.

        The problem is that many companies – and Valve (and EA) ESPECIALLY – haven’t just enabled this, they’ve outright ENCOURAGED it and that needs to be stamped-on really, really hard.

        • ironman Tetsuo says:

          When they purposely obfuscate the money transfer, making items cost gems and gold coins instead of actual cash, it’s because it’s a psychological trick designed specifically to target vulnerable people, it’s despicable and needs to go! The value these systems add to games are minuscule, the damage they cause is great, if they were banned you’d lose nothing and you’d prevent a lot of people losing lots.

          A person’s brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 21, anyone below this age is susceptible to these tricks, it’s no good telling them to git gud when most victims of these scams haven’t developed the necessary defence against it, it’s exactly the same reason banks specifically target people below this age with credit card offers and why they also have so much debt.

          • trjp says:

            Actually, emotional development continues into your mid-20s but that’s an aside because life skills like “Not spending what you don’t have” need to be acquired somewhat sooner!

            Simple fact is that in most cases the parents are no brighter than the kids – they’re expecting the world to protect them against themselves. They’re the same people who drive their cars until the engines explode because no lights told them to change their oil – indeed, drive their kids into rivers and them blame the car for the peril caused etc. etc.

            As I said above, money “in” isn’t the problem – it’s when that money can come ‘out’ that the dishonesty starts and here it’s starting with companies like Valve who need a bit of a slapping.

    • SaintAn says:

      Yeah, it’s all scams designed to prey on children and the weak minded. It’s disgusting and hurts gaming too. Microtransactions have completely killed the MMO genre for example. And people even beg corporations for these scams and defend them. It’s tragic.

      But scams makes corporations a lot of money so no law makers are going to go against them and protect the people being taken advantage of with laws to outlaw these scams.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Absolutely. We shouldn’t so blindly accept companies trying to take advantage of the vulnerable. It’s a disease in gaming right now, and it’s spreading.

    • gunrodent says:

      Very much so. For some reason our societies frown upon ladies of negotiable virtue and those who negotiate it so much that it is a criminal offence. It is called vice isn’t it? Yet in the very same department you see legal gambling sites, casinos, lotteries etc. All just created to swindle people out of their money. Without even a negotiated virtued to show for it. Ban it all. It IS a plague!

    • hungrycookpot says:

      To play devil’s advocate; this is how capitolism works. You’re free to sell whatever you want to sell, as long as it isn’t harmful, and people are free to buy it or not buy it. By that logic, why allow the sale of video games in the first place? They just cost money and waste time, and sometimes get people addicted to them. Or cigarettes, alcohol, fatty foods, anything which is non-productive or unhealthy. Obviously no sensible person buys or enjoys micro-transactions, but having the right to sell them despite the fact that they are clearly a useless ripoff is unfortunately basically the cornerstone of modern (and probably ancient) society.

    • skyst says:

      Generally speaking, I agree with you. But part of being a kid is pissing away lots of money on useless crap, be it video games, action figures, whatever. I never had access to my parent’s credit cards and neither will my children. A child’s purchases should be supervised every single time.

      However, these digital micro transactions will likely be utterly worthless as time goes on and no one plays the games anymore. Unlike my childhood obsession, Magic: The Gathering, which by some strange twist of fate, managed to stay popular and make my 20 year old pieces of cardboard worth hundreds of dollars each. Go figure!

  2. meepmeep says:

    I don’t know much about how regulation of the gambling industry works, but from what little I have gathered, the next step is for them to be taken to a basement room containing Joe Pesci and some boltcutters.

  3. satan says:

    Hopefully they get some jail time, they’re both more than old enough to know better.

  4. keefybabe says:

    “you need to plead guilty”
    “yeah but I’m not.”
    “you mean aside from the youtube videos, evidence of ownership, and financial records ”
    “yeah”
    “you realise that’s like saying you’re not guilty of murder despite video evidence of the murder, you being found with the murder weapon in your hands while drenched in blood screaming ‘I KILLED HIM!’ right? Pretty please, plead fucking guilty”
    “ok, but it seems to work for Trump.”