Two YouTubers, Craig "Nepenthez" Douglas and Dylan Rigby have been charged for soliciting minors and promoting illegal gambling for EA Sports' FIFA games using the FIFA Ultimate Team packs. The duo were taken to court by the British Gambling Commission.
According to Polygon, both Douglas and Rigby ran a YouTube channel called FUT Galaxy Channel. It centered around the FIFA Ultimate Team packs, a feature within the FIFA games that allow users to unlock players by purchasing premium cash shop packs in order to increase the value and proficiency of the team(s) in FIFA.
EA has been implementing the FUT features into the more recent titles, alongside games like Madden NFL and their annual NHL series. They had some issues before with customers who at one point proclaimed that they were losing money on the packs because there was a glitch in the delivery of the goods.
Well, in this particular case the Gambling Commission has been investigating the rise of gambling within video games and have begun cracking down on gambling sites and the YouTubers who promote them.
At the moment the case involving Rigby and Douglas has been adjourned up until October 14th. Their charges consist of the solicitation of minors for the purpose of gambling, along with unlawful advertisement of gambling.
A group of YouTubers here in the United States were also pursued civilly by a group of parents after it was discovered that the YouTubers ran and promoted gambling Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling sites on their channels. The promotion of the gambling ended up getting the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, and thereafter also resulted in lawyers taking a very serious look at some of the YouTubers involved in the skin trading and gambling circuit.
Even Valve decided to distance themselves from the gambling trade within Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, banning the sites from utilizing the OpenID Steam API to allow Steam users to easily connect their accounts for use with the skin gambling sites. Valve sent out cease and desist letters to the organizations using the Steam API.
In this case, there was no mention of Electronic Arts' involvement with the FIFA gambling, but in America, some lawyers have been targeting the facilitators of the gambling and not just the solicitors. The articles so far relating to the Gambling Commission in the U.K., they don't mention if they have enacted any sort of disciplinary reparations from Electronic Arts for the facilitation of the FUT packs in FIFA that allows for the gambling to take place, but that could all come later or maybe not at all.
For now, the British Gambling Commission have sent a loud and clear message to YouTubers, letting them know that unsanctioned gambling rings, unsanctioned advertisement of gambling and the solicitation of minors for gambling in relation to video games are not welcome in the United Kingdom.
We still don't know if there will be fines or jail time for the YouTubers but after October 14th, we'll likely find out what their fate will be and how it will set precedent for gambling related activities within the world of electronic entertainment.