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Government to investigate Football Index collapse

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Written by: Emma Lunn
21/04/2021
An independent review examining the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the gambling platform has been announced by minister for gambling and lotteries John Whittingdale.

Football Index, operated by BetIndex Ltd, had a model that allowed customers to buy ‘shares’ in footballers and receive returns based on their performance. The Gambling Commission suspended the firm’s operating licence in March, and it entered administration shortly after.

The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for gambling-related harm wrote a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson last week, calling for an urgent investigation into the gambling site’s collapse. In response, the government has announced that it will appoint an independent expert to lead the review.

Football Index had hundreds of thousands of users, some with six-figures sums ‘invested’ in the betting platform. An estimated £90m is currently stuck in the defunct platform.

As well as establishing how the firm collapsed and identifying any lessons to be learned, the review will look at the decisions and actions of the Gambling Commission, which licenses and regulates the gambling industry.

The findings will be made public in the summer and they will form part of the evidence informing the wider review of the Gambling Act. A ‘white paper’ setting out findings and proposals for reform of the act will be published by the end of the year.

Minister for gambling and lotteries John Whittingdale said: “We know how difficult it has been for people affected by the collapse of Football Index with some losing significant sums of money. We are setting up an independent inquiry so that we can find out how this happened.

“We are determined to ensure that regulators have the right tools to protect customers and to deal with novel products. The gambling landscape is evolving rapidly and so we are also taking action by reviewing the Gambling Act to make sure our laws are fit for the digital age.”

The review will also look at the work of other relevant regulators, to provide a clear account of how Football Index’s activities were regulated and identify if there are areas for improvement in how complex products are treated.

The period under review is September 2015 to 11 March 2021, which is when the Gambling Commission suspended BetIndex’s licence after concerns over customer funds.

The Gambling Commission is also carrying out a regulatory investigation into BetIndex, while administrators are considering the assets and liabilities of the company in terms of possible recompense to customers.

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