Two popular FIFA Youtubers have pled guilty to charges of them promoting an unregulated ‘social gaming’ site that allows underage FIFA fans to place bets using virtual coins.
Craig Douglas and his business partner Dylan Rigby – FIFA Youtubers – have been ordered to pay fines of £91,000 and £174,000 respectively, for breaking the regulations pertaining to 2005 Gambling Act.
Douglas – who goes by the alias of NepentheZ on his YouTube channel – promoted an unregulated ‘social gaming’ site FutGalaxy, which allows minors to use their FIFA coins to place bets on real-life football events.
(FutGalaxy offers the option to bet on real-life events using your FIFA 17 coins, but just like real betting, if your bet loses, you don’t get your virtual currency back. The coins that are won on bets can be withdrawn to your Ultimate Team account, according to their official site.)
Douglas admitted to being the officer of the ‘social gaming’ company which operated without a proper license and advertised unlawful gambling, but previously argued that players who went on FutGalaxy placed wagers using virtual currency, which, in his opinion, doesn’t require a person to be of legal betting age.
“You don’t have to be 18 for this, because this is a virtual currency,” said Douglas, one of the two FIFA Youtubers involved in this case.
However, an argument can be placed that minors are actually making wagers through indirect means. Buyers of the FIFA game can win coins by advancing in the game itself or once they’ve achieved certain targets. (FIFA coins are used to purchase a whole range of extra options and special features that are intended to elevate each player’s gaming experience.)
However, there’s a quicker way to getting in-game coins, and that’s by simply purchasing a more expensive FIFA game package beforehand that features a large number of coins from the start. Essentially, one can repeatedly use real money to buy extra FIFA coins and use them in-game whichever way they please. It’s easy to see why younger players can be lured to sites like FutGalaxy – which offer them the chance to make more FIFA coins – despite them being illegal betting platforms.
Craig Douglas runs the popular YouTube channel NepentheZ, where he has countless FIFA videos.
Based on an educated guess, FutGalaxy would probably then somehow convert the FIFA coins they’ve earned from players’ losses to real money, or sell them back to interested parties at a discount, compared to original FIFA coins purchased from real vendor outlets. Taking into account that FutGalaxy made a pre-tax profit of £96,000 in a mere seven month period (July 2015 – February 2016), a portion of those earnings must have gone to the FIFA Youtubers for their promotional efforts on their channel.
The NepentheZ channel has more than 1.4 million subscribers, and it’s believed the vast majority of those people are underage individuals, considering the FIFA game franchise is predominantly played by younger generations.
Supposedly, a 14-year-old boy placed bets on FutGalaxy which saw him lose a whopping £586 in a single day. Although he didn’t directly bet on football events using real money, he did use virtual FIFA coins which have to be purchased beforehand using real money.
Therefore, the judge at the hearing, Jack McGarva, stressed this constitutes a form of betting that attracts minors due to the game’s popularity, especially with underage teenagers. He further added the two FIFA Youtubers intentionally ignored this fact, despite betting being legally forbidden to minors.
As a result, both FIFA Youtubers received fines totalling £40,000 from McGarva, with Douglas getting a £16,000 fine and Rigby being handed a £24,000 penalty fee for his part in the affair.
“The aggravating features of these offences are they were committed over a relatively long period of about six months,” said the judge. “Children were gambling on your site. It’s impossible for me to how know how many or the effect on them. In my opinion, both of you were aware of the use of the site by children and the attractiveness of it to children. At the very least, you both turned a blind eye to it.”
NOTE: Betting Herald always advises you to check beforehand whether an online sportsbook or other kind of betting site is regulated and if it’s legal for you place wagers with them on sporting events or otherwise. ALSO, please make sure you are over the legal age in your jurisdiction (18 or 21) before placing a bet!