GosuGamers Weekly Business Review, 3/2 - 10/2
Welcome to the Gosu Money Review, where we take a look at the biggest, most interesting or sometimes just strangest stories to permeate the world of eSports business each week.
It’s been a little while since we looked at a gambling scandal, and with the first real ruling being handed down in the last week it seems like a great place to start off this edition. In case you missed it, British YouTube personality Craig ‘Nepenthez’ Douglas and his business partner Dylan Rigby were found guilty of offences under the UK’s Gambling Act this week, and given hefty fines for their troubles.
The case was heard in Birmingham, England, which is also the home of the UK Gambling authorities, and concerns the running of sites that not only took a profit from in-game pack openings, but also allegedly offered users the chance to bet on real life games. Aside from anything else that speaks to a lack of research around the subject itself from the guilty parties, who apparently weren’t aware that bookmakers need to jump through a few hoops before they open a shop.
The real crux of the matter was the fact the pair had knowingly been marketing their product to minors, with the court apparently shown a video where Nepenthez himself stated that users did not have to be eighteen to use his site. The reasoning behind that statement, if it can be called as much, is that he seems to have believed gambling laws do not apply to virtual currency, a mistake he has surely learned from now.
In a statement provided to PCGamesN on the 7th February, CEO of the Gambling Commission Sarah Harrison had some harsh words for the defendants. "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'.
The penalties imposed were significant for a crime that carries a maximum of a 51 week jail sentence, with Nepenthez fined £91,000 and Rigby £174,000, although one suspects they will just be happy to have maintained their freedom for now. Harrison went on to issue a warning to other companies looking to profit the same way on her turf, and promised to come down hard on the perpetrators wherever possible.
"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."
That is the most significant part of this judgement, at least for now, the fact that the authorities in the UK are not only aware of this problem but looking to crack down on it in a serious way. With other high-profile situations happening in the US it is not possible to extrapolate as to how this might bode for the likes of TMartn, but the idea that the authorities either won’t understand or know how to deal with this problem can be put to bed at least.
Splyce receive investment from Bruins group
The latest story to involve a sports team getting into eSports also broke this week, although the use of the Boston Bruins name in headlines may or may not have been a tiny bit clickbait-y. In reality, far fewer people would have clicked on the headline ‘Delaware North invests in Splyce eSports’ than those related to the storied hockey franchise, but either way it is another large step for both the investors and organisation benefitting.
Image courtesy of Splyce.GG
The extent of the benefit is yet to be realised of course, and Delaware North have a lot of decisions ahead of them as to how they proceed, either through keeping endemic talent or bringing in their own management team. The potential is huge though, and with Splyce already a rapidly growing team it will make for an exciting partnership.
Elsewhere, another of the sports teams invested in the scene made a new move, but it’s not one that makes a massive degree of sense. With the FIFA Interactive World Cup in full swing Schalke 04 have decided to sign an eSports football star, but not one that plays EA’s ‘masterpiece’. Germany’s top ranked Pro Evolution Soccer player, Lennart “Lennao” Albrecht, has become the latest to sign with a ‘real’ sports team, and seems very happy to have done so.
“[With] the signing comes great expectations of me, which is why my focus is on the upcoming second season, starting end of February. It will be all about the qualification for World Championship but I am sure with my experiences and the ideal training conditions offered by the club, I have high chances of success,” Albrecht told the club in his signing statement. While this writer considers PES to be the slightly superior football game at present, it fascinating to see how Albrecht and Schalke get on in this new partnership in what is commercially eSports’ second football game.
ESPN to show virtual 'soccer'
To round things off, we have a bit of news that aptly demonstrates the trouble Schalke and their PES pro may face, as ESPN has plans to broadcast the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Series. The regional finals will airs variously on ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN 3, with broadcasts in English, Spanish and Portuguese in the ESPN territories. With French broadcaster Canal+ also jumping on the virtual bandwagon, this could be a big year for EA’s footie sim.
ESL announce talent for IEM Katowice
PTR changes in Overwatch announced this week
Hearthstone Global Games announced
DOTA 2 7.02 Gameplay update goes live
Events to catch
Starladder announce IEM season three
UK's largest gaming festival features Overwatch
Elimination mode returns to DOTA 2
ESL are looking for a Sales and Marketing co-ordinator
Editor in chief required for new eSports Betting operation
Another chuckle from the world of Overwatch
Do you think the fines were fair? If not, let us know if you think they should be higher or lower in the comments
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