Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Douglas And Rigby Plead Guilty To Running An Illegal FIFA Gambling Site

Back in September I wrote about Craig Douglas and Dylan Rigby, two men who made history as the first people charged with running an unlicensed gambling site connected to a video game. Yesterday, they made history again as they both pled guilty to the charges. According to the BBC:
The men ran a website called FUT Galaxy that let players transfer virtual currency out of the Fifa 17 video game, and use it to bet on real-life football games.

Winnings could then be transferred back in to the Fifa 17 video game.

But crucially, the Fifa virtual currency can also be sold on an online black market, giving the virtual coins real world value, like casino chips.

Similar betting websites connected to other video games also exist, and news site Bloomberg has suggested the market is worth billions of pounds.

Douglas, 32, from Ferndown, Dorset, 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.

Rigby, 33, from Colchester, Essex, pleaded guilty to two charges connected to the provision of facilities for gambling, and a third offence linked to advertising illegal gambling. [emphasis mine]
According to the BBC, the men did not break the law because they offered gamblers real life currency directly, because they didn't. The U.K. Gambling Commission didn't charge the pair because EA allows players to exchange virtual currency for real world cash, because it doesn't. Douglas and Rigby face jail time because of the existence of a secondary market dealing in FIFA 17 coins. To the British authorities, the fact that the sale of the coins for real currency broke the terms of service didn't matter. Due to the presence of the secondary market, FIFA 16 coins were considered "money's worth", and thus Douglas and Rigby needed to follow the gambling laws.

For those unfamiliar with the case, I suggest going back and reading my original post on the matter. With the latest development, I think I may have the law in the U.K. figured out.

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