The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reminded all licensees that it should have measures in place to ‘make sure that consumers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged’ if the licensee leaves the market.
The reminder comes a little over six months after Irish sports betting operator BetBright’s closure meant that a number of customers were left in limbo as to the status of their bets.
Explaining that “one of the principles of our regulation is that gambling should be fair and open,” the regulator highlighted a trio of expectations to all licence holders, stating: “we expect licence holders to: conduct their business with integrity; maintain adequate financial resources and have due regard to the interests of consumers and treat them fairly.”
The regulator stated: “We are aware that, from time to time, gambling businesses leave the British market. This may be for a variety of reasons, ranging from insolvency to personal retirement. We are aware that businesses have been taking a variety of approaches to dealing with their consumers in these situations, and we want to make our expectations clear.”
Outlining the expectations, the UKGC emphasised that licensees must be made aware of their liabilities and have sufficient plans in place to cover these. Licence holder must also ‘warn consumers placing long-term bets that their stakes and winnings are not secured in the event of insolvency.’
Consumers should also be offered further information regarding the level of funds protection in place, which is already a precondition to gaining a licence.
The UKGC also issued further advice on expectations should a business decide to close:
- Provide clear and concise information to consumers.
- Show they are in control of the situation by keeping consumers updated and giving information on any potential routes for redress. Communication should include all available means including direct contact and wider messages on social media.
- Discharge all their liabilities to their consumers whenever possible.
Issuing further comments on its advice to industry businesses, the authority stated: “Even where a business becomes insolvent, we still may act against both the operating licensee and any relevant personal management licensees if there have been failings.
“We will also consider a licensee’s conduct in any future licence application they make. If we consider there has been wrongdoing, such as fraud or illegal trading, we can refer this to the relevant enforcement agency.
“We expect all gambling businesses to have plans in place and take steps to make sure that consumers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged if they do have to close for whatever reason. The best outcome for consumers will depend on the specific circumstances. If a business is insolvent (unable to pay its debts) then it cannot legally carry on trading.”