FIFA 16 Betting Under the Spotlight After YouTubers Are Charged With Promoting To Kids


FIFA 16 betting is popular among hardcore eSports players. However, unlicensed sites allow anyone to win upgrades and coins via casino-style games. (Photo: EA Sports)

FIFA 16 betting is in the news after two prominent YouTubers were charged with promoting gambling sites to minors.

Popular vlogger “NepentheZ”, known as Craig Thomas to his parents, is one of a pair of YouTubers who have been brought to book by the UK Gambling Commission after a lengthy investigation into eSports. Dylan Rigby is the other name mentioned in the legal case.

The pair have been charged with “promoting a lottery and advertising unlawful gambling”. Douglas himself has been specifically charged with enticing minors to gamble on elements of the hugely popular FIFA 16 game.

Rise Of In-Game “Skins” Worries UK GC

FIFA is one of a series of video games that allows players to win in-game coins. These can then be used to trade for digital “skins” or sold to other gamblers on unlicensed gambling sites. It’s an element of eSports that has dominated headlines in other countries that have legalised online gambling like Australia.

Even “NepentheZ” was in the news recently after his FIFA account was hacked and millions of FIFA coins stolen.

Dylan Rigby ran the popular FUTGalaxy channel on YouTubem where he would discuss the various merits of the game’s footballers. However, he is alleged to have promoted skin-trading sites as well. The newest version of FIFA is available to UK players under the age of 18. However, gambling on skins is strictly prohibited to minors.

The UKGC has been looking into the way skins are traded online. Typically, they have appeared in first-person shoot ’em ups like Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Australia, prominent anti-gambling politicians have called for a total ban on video game betting to protect children. In fact, promoters of gambling on skins in CS:GO were also hauled before the courts earlier in 2016.

So far, at least, there is little sign that betting on eSports is a problem in the UK. However, trading on skins on the rise, the Gambling Commission is keen to nip any problems in the bud.

In a discussion paper published last month, the UKGC looked into the wide-ranging issues of betting on eSports, social gaming, and virtual currencies earned as players progress through the levels. Some sites exist that allow players to gamble their in-game currencies, weapons or status on fruit-machine style gambling games.

“Where ‘skins’ are traded or are tradeable and can therefore act as a de facto virtual currency and facilities for gambling with those items are being offered, we consider that a licence is required,” the report said.

Betting On eSports Grows

The Gambling Commission’s report on the rise of betting in video games also includes an examination of whether eSports themselves constitute gambling.

Live and online eSports competitions played for a prize are hugely popular. However, they also require huge amounts of skill to be won. The UKGC recognises that, like poker, there is an element of chance in eSports and is looking into whether video games contests for cash constitutes gambling under UK law.

If any connection can be made between betting on eSports and problem gambling, or a progression towards gambling on real-money markets like casino games, the Gambling Commission could have a much larger legal battle on their hands.

In the meantime, the two popular vloggers who have disappointed their large followings by dumping their YouTube channels, an appearance back in court on October 14 beckons.

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