FIFA YouTuber Prosecuted Under New Gambling Law

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.

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 <3."

Gambling with in-game currency has become a hot topic lately and 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.


Comments

    And here I thought Youtubers were supposed to be the ones with ethics.

    The so-called 'consumer-minded' game journalists who use Youtube as their primary means of connecting with their audience are more concerned with fighting game character DLC being already on the disc you buy, instead of pursuing EA et al for these practices.

      It's all about that all might dollar (or pound), ethics take a back seat when someone flashes cash in a some of people's eyes.

      I see where you are coming from, but those are some broad strokes.

    I like how they dismiss virtual items as NOT gambling, there is no grey area gambling laws have been around for ages state "products or items of value".

    There is no difference from an online poker game that has chips vs a soccer game that has ingame currency... as soon as two parties agree the token item has value and then is encouraged to risk and reward stakes on games of chance then its gambling. The only exception is if the chips/currency has no real world value.

    Its also illegal to rig odds/chance, commit fraud or promotr to minors in nearly every gambling law on the planet.

    Allowing a non-gambling mechanic to be exploited for gambling as it allowed both real world value and player trading to be used by crafty individuals to promote gambling... was EA in the wrong No, should EA of prevented it Yes.

      He made money getting kids into gambling. I hope all his computer gear and bank accounts are frozen and taken as evidence.

    Nice to see these scum getting at least some comeuppance. Meanwhile though that syndicate guy got rewarded with a Guinness world record for most views of a stream or something despite being a con artist. Disgusting.

    Werent there poker machines in Pokemon Red/Blue. Where does this type of gambling fall or does it not count as it was single player and the currency cannot be converted to real $

      That's correct, the currency was never real world dollars nor can it be converted to it, so the gambling is not illegal.

      It does however promote playing slot machines to kids. Though I've played these games plus played the slot machines inside of those games and have never once had the urge to play the IRL machines.

      Thats the biggest confusing part behind this. Its not the gambling as such thats the problem, its the ability to convert it to cash in one way or another. You risk real money to get an uncertain object, and can then make money out of it. The how is less relevant to the ability to do so.

      If it was just the actual act of gambling, you have to ban Monopoly or pretty much any board game for that matter, where the result relies on random chance.

        Making or losing money on a dice roll and gambling on a volatile housing market? I never thought about it but yes, it is very much a gambling game.
        One thing that is really in a grey area is freemium gambling style games where you can't win real money but you can spend real cash to get in game currency.

          Yeah, its where the grey area ends up becoming confusing. I play tournament poker, which is where I first heard the monopoly analogy, and it was put fairly simple. We pay an entry fee (or not, some games are free), play a game where everyone starts equal, and through luck and skill try to be the last one standing. Monopoly is no different. On that basis, tournament poker isnt actually gambling.

          Obviously poker has a lot of gambling traits about it, but those technicalities are where the debate lies - how do you discriminate between two identical games, where the only difference is how you enter and leave the game?

          If someone was playing a never ending monopoly game, where people could sell their properties back to the bank and convert the result to real money, then its gambling. Thats all it would take. And the people behind these rules want it to stop that backdoor capability before kids get sucked into a gambling mentality.

          And its coming down to semantics and personal opinion on what someone considers gambling. As we understand monopoly, you wouldnt consider it gambling, but its not a huge stretch to turn it into something that is. FIFA and in particular these YouTubers seem to have crossed that line.

          Going to be interesting to see how the courts rule on this, as I'm not so sure its as clear cut as it seems.

    Nepenthe, eh. Wonder if that's after the Sentenced song. Good stuff.

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