Update February 7, 2017: the UK Gambling Commission has provided a statement to PCGamesN on yesterday's ruling in the FUT Galaxy gambling case.
The Gambling Commission has commented after yesterday's ruling on the FUT Galaxy case, in which YouTubers and gambling site operators Craig 'NepentheZ' Douglas and Dylan Rigby were found guilty of offences under the Gambling Act 2005, and ordered to pay heavy fines.
Don't spend your money on gambling, kids. See if your parents will buy you something off our upcoming PC games list instead.
Sarah Harrison, CEO of the Gambling Commission, described the case as "one of the most serious" that the Commission has investigated.
"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'.
"All websites offering gambling facilities in Britain must be licensed; it is the only way in which children and vulnerable people can be protected. This case demonstrates that we will use the full range of our statutory powers to investigate and prosecute individuals and companies who try to operate illegally."
The Gambling Commission, which brought the case, is a quango sponsored by the British Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It regulates most gambling in the UK, and has been focusing on videogame gambling in recent months. See our earlier coverage below for more details.
Update February 6, 2017: Craig Douglas, aka NepentheZ, and co-defendant Dylan Rigby were both hit with massive fines tonight after entering guilty pleas at Birmingham magistrates court.
The pair could have faced substantial jail time for promoting illegal gambling on their website, FUT Galaxy, which was accessible to people of any age.
According to The Guardian, Rigby was ordered to pay fines and costs of £174,000, while Douglas must pay £91,000. Of that amount, Rigby paid prosecution costs of £150,000 and Douglas must pay £75,000. For their crimes, Rigby was fined £24,000 and Douglas £16,000.
The Gambling Commission told PCGamesN earlier today that the rest of the hearing would be held tomorrow, but it's seemingly been expedited, perhaps off the back of the guilty plea.
District judge Jack McGarva said: “The aggravating features of these offences are they were committed over a relatively long period of about six months. Children were gambling on your site. It’s impossible for me to know how many or the effect on them.
“In my opinion, both of you were aware of the use of the site by children and the attractiveness of it to children. At the very least, you both turned a blind eye to it.”
Douglas was even shown on video in court telling his viewers that they "don't have to be 18 for this, because this is a virtual currency." One 14-year-old boy was said to have lost £586 in a day.
Update February 6, 2017: Craig Douglas, aka NepentheZ, attended court today and changed his plea to 'guilty', along with business partner Dylan Rigby.
Douglas and Rigby ran website called FUT Galaxy that let people gamble virtual currency, promoting the website without disclosure to a 1.3 million YouTube audience.
Hey bros. just want to say a big thanks for the messages of support. Until we meet again.— NepentheZ (@NepentheZ) February 6, 2017
"Douglas, 32, admitted a charge of being an officer of a firm that provided facilities for gambling without an operating licence, and a further offence relating to the advertising of unlawful gambling," say the BBC.
"Rigby, 33, pleaded guilty to two charges connected to the provision of facilities for gambling, and a third offence linked to advertising illegal gambling."
The Gambling Commission confirmed to PCGamesN that sentencing would take place tomorrow morning.
Update February 2, 2017: Craig Douglas, AKA Nepenthez, pleaded not guilty on the charges of promoting a lottery and advertising unlawful gambling back in October. This was allegedly done through a FIFA YouTube channel and a FIFA Ultimate Team card gambling website. The YouTuber is now due to reappear in court and face those charges on Monday next week, February 6.
The hearing is expected to last a week, where the jury will hear how NepentheZ allegedly invited children to gamble on a FUT card website.
“I’ve got something coming up on Monday, 6th of February that could change my life, define my future,” says NepentheZ in a recent video.
“If you don’t know, just Google ‘NepentheZ court case’ and it will come up for you. There is a probability that I won’t be walking out of court on Monday morning, and that’s scary.”
We will update as the trail progresses.
Update October 16, 2016: Craig Douglas, AKA Nepenthez, and co-defendant Dylan Rigby have entered not guilty pleas after being charged with promoting a lottery and advertising unlawful gambling through their FIFA YouTube channels.
The pair entered their pleas on Friday, October 14, at Birmingham Magistrate's Court in the UK where the Gambling Commission is based. The case is now adjourned until February 6 next year where the hearing is expected to last a week.
The charges, related to inviting children to gamble on a website for FIFA Ultimate Team cards, are the first brought to trial by the Crown Prosecution Service for an issue many influential YouTubers have been accused of in recent months.
Original story: Two YouTubers have been charged with unlawful gambling, in the first case of its kind involving videogame gambling sites.
Rigby and Douglas, who are both from Essex, are charged with promoting a lottery and advertising unlawful gambling, while Douglas has the added charge of inviting children to gamble.
The case comes off the back of a recent investigation into videogame gambling by The Gambling Commission. The group is hoping to raise awareness to parents about the potential for children to be drawn into gambling with virtual skins or currencies, as well as making sure those breaking the law see their day in court.
Birmingham Magistrates' Court saw the men appear on Friday, but the case has been adjourned until October 14.
Douglas didn't seem worried about the law back in June 2015, when he replied to a tweet warning him of the dangers of not indicating the site was for people over 18, saying, "Let us worry about that kind of stuff, yeah. Jesus, lmao. Go annoy someone else, somewhere else."
Though this is the first case, it likely won't be the last. It's still unclear if anything will come of the TmarTn and Pro Syndicate CSGOLotto scandal, for example, but time will tell.