Gambling Commission suggests it has limited powers in Football Index update

In an update, the UK Gambling Commission has suggested it is restricted in regards to how it can help progress the ongoing investigation into the collapse of Football Index.

The Commission’s update comes after it was announced Football Index would have to repay £3.5m in player funds earlier this month.

The Commission’s update

The UK gambling regulator has published an update today explaining that it may not be able to directly affect the legal proceedings of Football Index. 

Despite this, the Commission said it will remain co-operative with the necessary parties while stressing it does remain sympathetic with customers impacted by the firm’s collapse.

In its update, the Commission said: “The Gambling Commission has certain powers as a regulator and sometimes it is assumed we can do things which we cannot. This does not mean we do not recognise the distress and clear upset that many Football Index customers will be feeling.

“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. This is not something that can be directed by the Gambling Commission, but we are in contact to make sure any legal obligations covered by our remit are met.

“Whilst there will be limitations on what information we can publish whilst our regulatory investigations are ongoing, we will continue to provide updates whenever we have further information to share.”

What is happening with Football Index now?

The collapse of Football Index is currently in the hands of the High Court and administrators as they try to solve the issue of repaying customer funds.

In early June, the High Court selected 26 March as the cut-off date for payment of Football Index dividends which meant that approximately £3.5m would be distributed to affected customers. 

However, the High Court hearing only dealt with the funds held in player accounts and a decision has yet to be made on money that was tied up in active wagers.

The legal hearing to determine the cut-off date for account funds was necessary as the betting company’s administrator Begbies Traynor said bets that were still open when the operator went into administration would still be open and accruing dividends.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the money held in active bets on the platform. However, the operator did reveal through its court documents that it intends to repay some of those funds by relaunching and giving creditors equity in the new Football Index product.

The Commission touched on this in its update and said: “Many Football Index customers are very concerned about the ‘share portfolio’ part of the product. At the present time, there has been no valuation by the Administrators of ‘share portfolios’. The Gambling Commission is not involved in this valuation and it is unconnected to our powers as a regulator.”

Investigation into Football Index collapse

In early June, it was also announced that Malcolm Sheehan QC will lead the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) independent review into the collapse of the football stock market.

The inquiry aims to determine how the collapse occurred and if more could have been done to prevent it. The decisions made by the Gambling Commission regarding the collapse will also be assessed.

Speaking on the independent review, the Commission said: “We have welcomed the Government’s independent review and the focus it will bring to the way that complex products, which to consumers can have the appearance of both gambling and financial characteristics, are currently regulated.

“We are fully engaging with the review, which is being led by Malcolm Sheehan QC, to find forward-looking solutions that can also be fed into the Gambling Act Review.”