UKGC Justifies Decision to Refuse to Suspend Football Index Licence
While it has since done so, the Gambling Commission in Great Britain initially refused to suspend the gambling licence of troubled operator Football Index.
The firm had been under review for around a year, although initially, the governing body had found no grounds to initially suspending their licence.
Commission Looked into Parent Company in May 2020
The parent company of Football Index, BetIndex, had been the subject of a Gambling Commission review since May 2020 due to concerns about the business.
The Commission review called for a barrister and accountant to peer into the finances of BetIndex, while also looking into what has been described as complex legal questions regarding the appropriate regulatory framework.
Despite doing this, the Commission revealed their belief that there were no grounds at the time to suspend the licence of BetIndex at that time. The UKGC also were at pains to say that such a move could also have made the business’s financial problems worse, which would not be their intention, and could put customer’s funds in peril.
Following the initial review, Football Index had made moves to take the business offline to restructure and then relaunch it. In the end, the regulatory body ultimately decided to suspend the company’s gambling licence.
The suspension came amid the company making sweeping changes to its payout system, having concluded that its initial dividend system was not sustainable.
The Gambling Commission said that it would only resort to suspension if all other avenues appear shut, something that is outlined in British law.
As of March 11th 2021, the Gambling Commission had decided that suspension of the licence was the only regulatory option left open to them.
Customer Funds in Trust Account
Following the suspension of Football Index’s licence, the Gambling Commission said that it had indeed received assurances that player funds would not be used to pay any other debts or liabilities.
The only problem here is that the courts can have the final say on that, and so legal company Leigh Day announced that it was considering the representation of the customers concerned in a group claim against Football Index to protect what is their money.
Although the Gambling Commission has been criticised by Leigh Day Solicitors and been accused of letting down the customers, they have spoken to say that BetIndex holds any customer winnings in a trust account. One has to wonder, of course, why not simply pay it all out now?
The courts bind the Commission in all fairness in matter that reach this stage. The courts will indeed have the final say over how the BetIndex funds are given out, leaving many punters to believe that their own money will ultimately be used to pay the company’s other debtors.
If this is the case, then the customers have not been let down by the Gambling Commission but by the courts themselves.
While it’s true that player account funds are held in a trust account, the platform’s terms and conditions do state that any money invested in players have no such protection and were to be considered as “sums at risk”.
The wider question, maybe then, that if invested in Football Index was allowed to be considered as the same as any other trade investment, it should never have been under the auspices of the Gambling Commission in the first place.