Government review identifies ‘lessons to be learned’ regarding Football Index

The UK government has revealed the findings and conclusions of its investigation into the collapse of player exchange platform Football Index, making recommendations to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

First launched in April following the decline of Football Index after a number of users abandoned the site, leading to BetIndex entering administration, the Independent Review was led by Malcolm Sheehan QC and examined the circumstances surrounding the downfall of the company to identify areas of improvement.

Regarding Football Index parent company BetIndex’s operations and conduct, the review found that the operator did not inform the UKGC of changes to Football Index after it was launched, whilst also failing to properly notify the regulator of ‘the nature of the product’ in its initial licence application.

However, investigators also noted that the UKGC could have acted quicker and ‘better responded to the challenges that the novel product raised’ by carrying out earlier scrutiny of the language used by Football Index and better escalating the issues surrounding it.

In response to the findings, the UKGC revealed earlier today that it had made changes to its regulatory practices, such as factoring in ‘novel products’ when making assessments of operator risk. 

Additionally, the UKGC has also outlined plans to introduce ‘tighter rules for the terminology used to describe gambling products’, such as the use of the phrase ‘investments’ to describe wagering.

“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,” said  newly appointed Gambling Minister Chris Phlip.

“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.”

Furthermore, in response to the review identification of areas of improvement for the FCA – such as a greater speed of response to requests from the Commission and ‘consistency of messaging’ on regulatory responsibilities – the UKGC has strengthened its Memorandum of Understanding with the financial body.

Meanwhile, the FCA has nominated an Executive Director to coordinate its relationship and cooperation with the UKGC, and will continue its programme of change under its July Business Plan.

Administration proceedings for BetIndex are still being conducted by Begbies Traynor, whilst the UKGC’s own regulatory inquiry into the events surrounding the firm’s decline is also expected ‘in due course’.

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