YouTubers Craig Douglas and Dylan Rigby both pleaded innocent to charges under the Gambling Act at a Birmingham magistrates court on Friday.
Douglas, known to his 1.3 million YouTube subscribers as “Nepenthez,” and Rigby were both charged in September in what is believed to be the first ever prosecution for video game gambling.
Douglas is alleged to have invited his viewers, including children, to gamble, while Rigby, owner of the deactivated YouTube channel FUTGalaxy, for providing facilities for gambling.
The case will hinge on whether or not betting with virtual in-game currencies and assets, in this case ‘coins’ players can use to spend in the FIFA video game series from EA Sports, constitutes gambling.
In-game currencies have been attracting a wide range of controversy in recent months. Although they can often be converted into real-world currencies, they are effectively unregulated monetary instruments and under the total control of the private companies issuing them.
In recent days Icelandic game producers CCP closed player accounts for alleged gambling activity, wiping out the balances of in-game currency in the process. As the numbers of professional gamers, whether as YouTube commentators or players, continues to grow the unclear legal status of in-game currency will continue to throw up problems.
But as courts cannot even agree on the legal status of BitCoin, it seems unlikely there will be a consensus on in-game assets anytime soon.
And certainly not soon enough for Douglas or Rigby, whose case is adjourned until 6 February, when the court is expected to hold a week-long hearing.