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First pair to be charged over eSports gambling 20/09/16
• Start of the anti-video gambling war by the authorities?

Craig Douglas and Dylan Rigby are believed to have become the first people in the UK to have been charged with offences under the Gambling Act.

Both men appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court last week, charged with promoting a lottery and advertising unlawful gambling.

Douglas, who publishes gaming videos on YouTube under the name ‘Nepenthez’, has also been charged with inviting children to take part in gambling activities.

The case, which was brought forward by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), has been adjourned until October 14.

The news comes about two months after Valve said it would "start sending notices" to gambling services affiliated with its most popular Steam titles, requesting they cease operations through Steam. At the same time, Twitch also clarified its stance on gambling streams, doubling down on policies that prohibit streamers from broadcasting content that violates other companies' policies.

Craig Douglas, known as NepentheZ, is a prominent FIFA YouTuber, and Dylan Rigby was owner of the now deactivated FUTgalaxy channel.

FUTGalaxy is now inaccessible from within the UK. Access it from outside the UK (or via proxy) and it states it will re-open for FIFA 17 in a few days, and where it will presumably once again allow users to wager FIFA Coins on the outcome of randomly-generated results.

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.

"We are paying close attention to the growing popularity of virtual or 'in-game' items, which can be traded, sold or used as virtual currencies to gamble," a Gambling Commission spokesperson told website Eurogamer. "If GB-based players are being invited to gamble with money or money's worth then this requires an operating licence. We don't talk about individual websites because it might unjustifiably harm the reputation of individuals or prejudice the outcome of any investigation that may, or may not, be taking place."

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."

Craig has 1.3 million subscribers on his channel NepentheZ, and uploads videos focussed on FIFA. He has not explicitly mentioned the prosecution online, but alluded on Twitter to “testing times”, and something that he “can’t talk about… at this moment in time”

According to the BBC: “The Gambling Commission, which brought the prosecution, has been looking into the rise of video game gambling. It is warning parents that children can be drawn into betting on so-called skins – virtual goods such as weapons or clothes that are a feature of many popular games.”

This crackdown follows a recently published paper by the UK Gambling Commission on esports betting, amongst other forms of social gaming, and sets a worrying precedent for other Youtubers in a similar space to that which FutGalaxy operated in.

This case echoes a similar recent one over in the States involving Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Tom ‘Syndicate’ Cassell, the pair were somewhat scandalised following the revelation that they were the co-owners of a betting site (CS:GO Lotto) that they regularly promoted on their popular Youtube channels.

Rigby and Douglas are highly unlikely to be the last charged on these shores as the UKGC looks to get a handle on esports and underage gambling. Valve’s cease and desist letters opened the floodgates, and the more attention of this type that esports as a whole receives, the better for both those at risk and the industry itself long term.

It has been estimated that the global market in betting on video games is worth as much as £4bn.