NepentheZ is a popular YouTuber known for his FIFA videos featuring things like “#Top20 Fastest Players in #FIFA #17” and “FUTGALAXY – FIFA BETS, FIFA PACKS & FIFA 16 COINS!” where he does breakdowns of player abilities, stat comparisons, and also promotes gambling sites.
Now, he could become well known as being one of the first prosecutions under Britain’s Gambling Act for promoting gambling with FIFA coins, in-game currency that can be purchased through micro-transactions, and encouraging minors to participate. NepentheZ, whose real name is Craig Douglas, was charged along with Dylan Rigby, owner of the now defunct FUTgalaxy channel. As the BBC reported:
“The two men appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. The case has been adjourned until 14 October.
The Gambling Commission, which brought the prosecution, has been looking into the rise of video game gambling.
It is warning parents that children can be drawn into betting on so-called skins – virtual goods such as weapons or clothes that are a feature of many popular games.”
Tweets from last year, pointed out by PCGamesN, showed NepentheZ brushing off concerns about encouraging betting with in-game currency and items. (AU Editor’s Note: The tweets have since been taken down.)
For his part, NepentheZ is taking the news in-stride, asking people to wait for the full story, and continuing to tweet about Premier League and Champion’s League soccer while he waits for October.
I appreciate those who has reserved judgment without the full story, but fully understand those who haven't. Enjoy your day <3— NepentheZ (@NepentheZ) September 16, 2016
So far, NepentheZ hasn’t been found guilty of anything, only charged, and plenty of fans are sticking by him. As one person on Twitter wrote, “For those who want to know but don’t believe this shit, true fans stick by neppo blew up earlier this year when two Youtubers, Thomas “ProSyndicate” Cassell and Trevor “TmarTn” Martin, were discovered to have equity in gambling sites that they were promoting to their audience without ever having disclosed the information.
The money changing hands over virtual items and in-game gambling is estimated at up to $US7.4 ($10) billion. The black market for FIFA coins is pretty big, and derived from the series’ FIFA Ultimate Team mode where players buy different things from an in-game marketplace to bolster their side.
It’s made EA a lot of money, but also led to a lot of legal grey areas when it comes to video games and gambling.
The case against NepentheZ, however it’s eventually resolved, is likely just the first of many.