YouTubers fined for running illegal FIFA 17 gambling site
Allowed kids as young as 12 to gamble on games of FIFA 17.
Two men who admitted to running an unlicensed betting website have been fined after pleading guilty to gambling offences.
During a hearing at Birmingham magistrates court, Craig Douglas, 33, of Ilford, Essex—a YouTube gamer who’s alias is “NepentheZ”—and Dylan Rigby, 34, of Colchester, Essex—who founded FUT Galaxy—admitted to operating an unauthorised site that allowed video gamers to place bets using virtual currency.
The FutGalaxy.com site, which is not affiliated with EA Sports or the FIFA series, allowed users to buy virtual currency, called FUT coins, for use in the FIFA series of video games, specifically in the FIFA Ultimate Team mode, said the Gambling Commission—which brought the prosecution.
Customers could then use those FUT coins to gamble by placing bets on matches that took place in the game. The winnings could then be converted into FIFA coins, another virtual currency used in the FIFA series, which in turn could be sold for real money on an unauthorised secondary market in which Rigby also had an interest. This also violated EA’s Terms of Service agreement.
“FutGalaxy.com offered gambling products including sports betting, a jackpot lottery style game, and a higher or lower style game,” the UK’s gambling watchdog said. “The full extent of the gambling operation facilitated and advertised by the defendants was revealed after the commission executed search warrants at the defendants’ homes and seized a number of electronic devices and company documents.”
Rigby has been ordered to pay £174,000 in fines and costs, while Douglas has been saddled with a £91,000 fine, after both men pleaded guilty to offences under the UK’s Gambling Act.
“This was one of the most serious cases that has been investigated and prosecuted by the commission,” the watchdog’s chief Sarah Harrison said.
“Its gravity is reflected in the significant financial penalties imposed by the judge. The defendants knew that the site was used by children and that their conduct was illegal but they turned a blind eye in order to achieve substantial profits. The effect on children of online gambling was rightly described by the court as ‘horrific’ and ‘serious.'”
The commission has been eyeballing the rise of online video game gambling.
In a series of tweets following the fine, Douglas said: “I owe a huge apology to my family and close friends for putting them through this process, and appreciate all those that stood by me… I also owe a huge apology and debt of gratitude to my loyal supporters. Even if this is the end of our journey together, I’m grateful.”
This post originated on Ars Technica UK