I share the concerns raised regarding this incident, and I would like to offer my deepest sympathies for those who have been affected. As you are aware, Malcolm Sheehan QC has completed an independent expert review of the regulation of the Football Index gambling product, which follows the Gambling Commission's decision to suspend the operator's licence while it carries out its own investigation.
I have been informed that Mr Sheehan’s report was completed in such a way to avoid prejudicing a number of ongoing processes and investigations into BetIndex Ltd. (Football Index's operator). Given the legally sensitive nature of this particular situation, and the possibility of prejudicing any future legal proceedings, I am not in a position to discuss the actions of BetIndex. I do, however, understand that the report identified areas where the Gambling Commission could have been more effective in responding to the challenges raised by the novel product from its licensing to eventual collapse, including in early scrutiny, speed of decision-making and action, and escalation of issues when barriers arose. It is important to stress that the review was entirely separate from the ongoing administration proceedings, which are looking at assets and liabilities of the company and recompense to customers.
The report has also raised some important questions for the Government’s ongoing Review of the Gambling Act 2005 which is already taking a comprehensive and evidence-led look at gambling in this country, including a close examination of the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources. I therefore welcome the fact that the Government has confirmed that the Review will consider whether the Commission should require gambling companies to do more to demonstrate their ability to cover liabilities arising from long term bets, especially if they make up a large proportion of their business.
Finally, BetIndex remains in administration and the Gambling Commission continue to be in close contact with the company. Ultimately, alongside the courts, it is for the administrators to resolve the return of funds to affected consumers from the financial resources still held by the company. I would, however, be happy to discuss the matter of redress further with my ministerial colleagues.