The petition of residents of the constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran,
Declares that there is significant concern about the recent collapse of the betting firm Football Index following the suspension of the company’s license by the Gambling Commission and its entry into administration; notes that customers collectively have over £90 million trapped in the company with average losses of around £3,000 per customer; further declares that the petitioners understand that the firm operated as a “football stock market”, offering customers the ability to buy “shares” in footballers whose price would increase or decrease, and customers could be paid in “dividends” based on player performances; further that, only a few days after the company “minted” new shares in footballers and enticed customers to purchase shares, the company drastically decreased dividend payments by 82%, leading to a virtual market crash on the site which caused significant losses for customers; further that concerns have been raised that the firm operated like a pyramid scheme and that it had been admonished by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2019 for creating the impression that the product was a lucrative investment opportunity; and further that this scandal has called into question the adequacy of gambling regulation in the UK, given the Gambling Commission saw fit to give this company a license and apparently failed to ensure adequate oversight.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the UK Government to launch a full independent public inquiry into this scandal to ensure that gambling regulation is fit for purpose in protecting consumers.
And the petitioners remain, etc.
—[Presented by Patricia Gibson, Official Report, 14 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 432.]
Observations from The Minister for Media and Data (Mr John Whittingdale):
The Government are taking the collapse of BetIndex Limited, the operator of the Football Index product, and the concerns of those affected by it very seriously. We have launched an independent, expert-led review into the regulation of BetIndex to establish both how this situation came about and what lessons we can learn from it. The Secretary of State for Culture has appointed Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead the review, the full details of which are set out in the terms of reference, available at:
As outlined in the terms of reference, this independent review will provide an independent expert account of the actions taken by the Gambling Commission and other regulatory bodies regarding this complex betting product. This independent review is entirely separate from the Gambling Commission’s ongoing regulatory investigation and the ongoing administration proceedings, and will be carried out in such a way as to avoid prejudicing either of those processes.
The independent review is expected to provide a report for publication in the summer, and will include recommendations as needed across the full range of questions set out in the terms of reference. Its findings will form part of the evidence informing the Government ongoing review of the Gambling Act 2005, which was announced in December 2020; and which will look at whether changes are required to the regulatory framework around gambling, including the Commission's powers and resources and how it uses them. Further detail about the review can be found at:
Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)