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.