Gambling Commission set to make changes following Government report into Football Index saga

By Isabella Aslam

The Gambling Commission has announced it will be making changes to its regulation of innovative digital gambling products.  

The statement follows the publication of the UK Government’s Independent Review of the Regulation of BetIndex Limited was announced. It highlighted improvement areas in which The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Commission needed to adhere to, with points to build on. Not only this, but it identified lessons to be learned and actions in need of response.

The Gambling Commission is said to have already started implementing such rules, which will provide an insight into the Government’s ongoing review of the Gambling Act. 

Gambling Minister Chris Philp said: “I’m extremely conscious of how devastating the collapse of Football Index has been on its many customers, which is why we moved quickly to launch this independent review. 

“We have been clear that we must learn lessons to make sure a situation like this does not happen again. I’m encouraged to see the Gambling Commission and the FCA are taking concrete steps on an action plan on how they will better work together. 

“We will ensure that the findings from this review feed directly into our ongoing Gambling Act Review which is looking at ways we can improve regulation of the gambling industry.” 

“We will ensure that the findings from this review feed directly into our ongoing Gambling Act Review which is looking at ways we can improve regulation of the gambling industry” Gambling Minister Chris Philp

The Review found that: “In the first instance, BetIndex did not properly notify the Gambling Commission of the nature of the product in its licence application, nor did it inform the regulator of changes to the product after launch as it was required to.” 

The report also stated: “The Gambling Commission could have better responded to the challenges that the novel product raised once launched, with earlier scrutiny, including of the language used by the product, quicker decision-making and action, and better escalation of issues.” 

In addition to this, while Football Index was never regulated by the FCA, there were “areas for improvement for the FCA have been identified, including in speed of response to requests from the Commission and consistency of messaging on regulatory responsibilities.” 
 
Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission CEO, said: “No amount of explanation of what happened to Football Index will take away the justifiable hurt and anger its customers are experiencing having lost, in some cases, life-changing amounts of money when the gambling company collapsed. 

“We accept and agree that we should have drawn a line under our efforts sooner, but this does not mean those customers would not have lost money in the event of the BetIndex company collapsing. Throughout this case we sought the best outcome for consumers within the scope of our regulatory powers. 

“The review provides a number of helpful recommendations for how both regulators can work better together and for how our regulatory approach deals with novel products."

“We accept and agree that we should have drawn a line under our efforts sooner, but this does not mean those customers would not have lost money in the event of the BetIndex company collapsing" Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes

He continued: “In recent years we have seen an increase in the complexity of business models and product offerings. The lines between what is gambling and other types of products, such as financial services or computer games, have become increasingly blurred and no longer neatly fit into existing statutory definitions of gambling. 

“We have already acted on a number of the recommendations in the report. This has included more explicitly including novel products as one of the factors we consider as part of our assessment of a gambling company’s risk. We have also further strengthened the Memorandum of Understanding we have with the FCA so that issues that blur the lines between financial services and gambling are escalated and actioned more rapidly. 

“Our actions were always focused on trying to protect consumers while we sought to bring the operator into compliance with regulations."

In an aim to improve oversight of the industry alongside improving outcomes for the consumers, the UK Government has announced an increase in funding for the Gambling Commission commencing from October. 


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