Gambling commission 'participates fully' in government review of Football Index flaws

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) said it was "fully involved" in the UK government's public inquiry into the demise of Football Index earlier this month.

In issuing an update on Football Index parent company BetIndex's closer scrutiny, the UKGC said it would provide any support needed for the government-led investigation.

“We welcomed the government’s independent review and the attention it will give to the fact that complex products, which to consumers can have the appearance of both gambling and financial characteristics, are now regulated,” the UKGC said.

“We are fully engaged in the review, which is being led by QC Malcolm Sheehan, to find promising solutions that can also be used in the gambling law review,” it added.

The UKGC was heavily criticized following the demise of Football Index, with questions being asked about its conduct in the run-up to the firm's entry into administration, questions that eventually led to the formation of a public inquiry.

The regulator has repeatedly defended its position and disclosed details of a year-long investigation into the company's activities just a few weeks after its collapse in March.

Updated on BetIndex's own investigation into the sector, the UK regulator said it had received "understandable and ongoing" consumer interest in scrutinizing the business, but suggested that its remit would be limited to the scope of its regulatory powers.

“The Gambling Commission has certain powers as a regulator and it is sometimes assumed that we can do things that we cannot,” the UKGC said.

“This is not to say that we are unaware of the anxiety and sheer frustration that many Football Index customers will experience,” the regulator added.

The UKGC said its priority is to ensure that BetIndex focuses on treating its customers fairly and keeping them fully informed of any events that affect them, while remaining in "close contact" with the firm.

He also pointed to regular updates issued by the firm's administrators to affected shareholders.

“Ultimately, along with the courts, administrators must decide whether to refund affected consumers from the financial resources still at the company’s disposal,” the regulator explained.

“The Gambling Commission cannot regulate this, but we are in contact to ensure that any legal obligations covered by our remit are met,” the UKGC added.

So-called "trust money" totaling £4.5m is currently held by the Viscount of Jersey until fully repaid in clients' wallets, in accordance with a High Court ruling issued earlier this month.

The UKGC has said that BetIndex customers will be notified by email when the money has been transferred. Customers will then be able to log into their Football Index account and make a withdrawal request.

The UKGC has raised customer concerns about the "stock portfolio" portion of the Football Index product, revealing that BetIndex administrator Begbie Traynor has not valued those portfolios.

“The Gambling Commission is not involved in this assessment and it is not related to our powers as a regulator,” the UKGC concluded.