Thank you for contacting me about the collapse of Football Index.
I share your concern regarding this incident, and I would like to offer my deepest sympathies for those who have been affected. As you may be aware, the Government has announced that an independent expert review of the regulation of the Football Index gambling product will take place, which follows the Gambling Commission's decision to suspend the operator's licence while it carries out an investigation. The Gambling Commission has also made clear that it expects the operator to focus on treating customers fairly.
It is my understanding that when the Gambling Commission licenses an operator, they take into account suitability, including their financial circumstances. They do not oversee their businesses on a day-to-day basis or monitor the financial health of operators directly in real time. I do, however, recognise the distress caused by the financial affairs of Football Index, and I am pleased that the Minister for Media and Data, John Whittingdale, and the Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, have met with the Gambling Commission on multiple occasions to receive urgent reports. I will closely be following this matter and it is my hope an appropriate resolution can be found.
In addition, I warmly welcome the fact that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has appointment Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead an independent expert review of the regulation of the Football Index gambling product. I understand that he will provide an independent expert account of the actions taken by the Gambling Commission and other relevant regulatory bodies, and consider the lessons to be learnt for the future.
For further information on the review and guidance on the Terms of Reference, you may find the following link of interest: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-the-regulation-of-betindex-limited-terms-of-reference/terms-of-reference-independent-review-of-the-regulation-of-betindex-ltd.
This independent review is separate to that investigation being carried out by the Gambling Commission and will be carried out and report in a way which will not compromise it. Its findings will also form part of the evidence informing the Government's Review of the Gambling Act 2005.
Lastly, I am pleased that in December 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for purpose. This review will look in detail at how gambling has changed in the last 15 years, examining gambling advertising as well as the Gambling Commission’s role and powers. The findings will then be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking