UPDATE 12.05pm: The UK Gambling Commission, which helped bring this case to court, has now weighed in with its own words on YouTuber Craig “Nepenthez” Douglas’ sentencing:
“This was one of the most serious cases that has been investigated and prosecuted by the Commission,” its boss Sarah Harrison said. “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.”
UPDATE 11.30am: YouTuber Craig “Nepenthez” Douglas has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £91k, while his business associate Dylan Rigby has been told to pay £174k.
The fines are not minimal, but FUT Galaxy is reported to have made £96k profit between July 2015 and February 2016 – at the expense of the players Douglas attracted to the site.
The financial penalties also come instead of possible jail sentences.
Douglas and Rigby were admonished in court for the length of time they operated the site and allowed children to take part, The Guardian has reported.
Jurors heard how one 14-year-old boy lost £586 in just one day.
Video evidence from the Nepenthez channel also showed Douglas telling viewers: “You don’t have to be 18 for this, because this is a virtual currency.”
UPDATE 7/2/17 9.30am: YouTuber Craig “Nepenthez” Douglas has suggested he will pay a “substantial” fine but avoid prison after pleading guilty to two charges of illegal gambling.
That’s according to Douglas himself, who last night updated his 1.4m fans via Twitter after getting home from his appearance in court.
“I’ll upload a video in due course presenting my side of the story. The facts remain I plead guilty to two charges, and a substantial fine was the outcome,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The worst year of my life concluded today. I have so much to say, but you’ll take whatever judgement you feel needed from the press,” he added.
“I want to thank all of those that have supported me through my journey. I would understand any viewers choice to no longer watch my content. I owe a huge apology and debt of gratitude to my loyal supporters. Even if this is the end of our journey together, I’m grateful.”
Both Douglas and business partner Dylan Rigby are due to be formally sentenced later today.
The pair ran an unregulated gambling website, FUT Galaxy, which used FIFA Ultimate Team coins as currency. There’s more detail in our original story below:
ORIGINAL STORY 6/2/17 5.30pm: High-profile British YouTuber Craig “Nepenthez” Douglas has plead guilty to offenses under the UK Gambling Act.
Douglas, 32, and business partner Dylan Rigby, 33, were in court today to change their pleas – both had previously said they were innocent of promoting a lottery, advertising unlawful gambling and inviting children to gamble (as reported by BBC News).
The case, which is still ongoing, is the first in UK legal history to centre on a gambling website connected to a video game.
Douglas ran FUT Galaxy, a site which let users place bets using FIFA’s coin-based currency. He also made videos showing himself winning thousands of pounds, in which he encouraged his 1.4m subscribers to play as well.
Evidence dug up at the time suggested Douglas had not disclosed his ownership of the site. Viewers also questioned the accuracy and fairness of the bets he was shown winning.
The UK Gambling Commission intervened and charged both men late last year.
It follows a similar incident which sparked headlines earlier in the year involving fellow YouTubers Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell – although neither have yet been charged.
Both Douglas and Rigby are due to be sentenced when the case resumes tomorrow.