One of the biggest football-themed games in the world – a proud product of EA Sports – FIFA has emerged as a hot betting topic over the past couple of months.
And we are not talking about betting on FIFA matches from the outside world and through the eSports tournaments which are gaining more and more popularity every day. This legal side of betting on FIFA is well covered and available with a number of bookies who offer odds and markets on two biggest annual FIFA tournaments – ESL and FIWC.
Alternatively, it is the black-market betting on FIFA and with FIFA that is taking the online scene by storm.
The newest version of the highly popular game FIFA 17 has seen EA Sports, as the biggest name in sports section of the gaming world, enter the betting arena through coins that had been the subject of much talked-about controversy in UK recently.
Namely, FIFA 17 allows players to earn virtual currency as they progress through the game, with coins sitting at their disposal to buy new players in order to boost and upgrade their squads. Using coins is not a new concept in the gaming world and many respectable games have long introduced virtual currency to their players.
But unlike other names in the business, EA Sports and FIFA 17 do not offer a legal and official way to get FIFA coins. Hence, a black market has appeared online which allows people to buy FIFA coins and/or sell them back for real money.
A couple of black-market betting sites has emerged across the web, letting players transfer their FIFA coins out of the game itself to use them on real-sports betting or play slot games.
What is more, these sites also allowed prize money to be transferred back into FIFA, but most importantly the coins were being sold online which gave them real world value, like casino chips.
Seeing that FIFA coins were converted into real cash, the UK Gambling Commission has stepped in to label such activity illegal and those betting sites unlicensed.
Illegal and Unlicensed
It was in February 2017 that two men running a site connected to FIFA 2017 have been found guilty of offenses under the UK’s Gambling Act.
Craig Douglas and his partner Dylan Rigby ran a website called FUT Galaxy which let video gamers gamble virtual currency and were ordered to pay £91,000 and £164,000 in fines and costs, respectively.
Their particular case was the first-ever registered offence connected to a video game, the one deemed one of the most serious ones investigated and prosecuted by the Gambling Commission as well.
It is reported that, in addition to black-market FIFA betting sites, similar betting venues exist connected to other video games as well.
This newly-emerging gambling market is thought to be worth billions of pounds and the United Kingdom gambling authorities have joined their United States counterparts in effort to clamp down all activities related to the advertising of unlawful gambling.