BetIndex Limited: Website Review
On 28/08/15 during an assessment of Betindex Limited trading as Football Index document OL43061 was produced which contained several issues requiring further information. Please provide a copy of that document plus Second Website Review which found a few remaining issues. ICO has declared this matter in the public interest.
Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
In your email you have requested a copy of document OL43061 plus Second Website Review which found a few remaining issues relating to the assessment of Betindex Limited trading as Football Index on 28/08/2015.
Gambling operators are required to hold a licence from the Commission in order to offer facilities for gambling to customers located in Great Britain. The Commission goes through a licence application process as part of this and makes an assessment of suitability against criteria set out in the Act. Part 5 of the Gambling Act 2005 details the Commission’s statutory functions in relation to the licensing requirements. The Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) set out the requirements all licensees must meet in order to hold a Gambling Commission licence.
When we receive licence applications an assessment is made on whether a business will uphold the licensing objectives and also the suitability of the applicant to carry out the activities that the licence allows. As part of this assessment the Commission will request the following evidence to support the application and the individuals who are relevant to the application, such as:
- the identity of the individuals
- financial and other circumstances including resources available to carry out licensed activities
- integrity – honesty and trustworthiness
- competence – experience, expertise, qualifications and history
- criminality – criminal record.
Details with regards to how we process a licence application can be found at this link: How to apply for an operating licence.
These checks are carried out to ensure that we meet our obligations under the Act and our Statement of Principles.
Once licensed, gambling operators are subject to ongoing compliance requirements and are subject to regulatory action should they fail to meet their licence requirements.
Information collated as part of this process is used to assess whether a person or entity is fit to hold a licence.
I can confirm that information falling within the scope of your request is held. However, the Commission is of the view that any information in relation to specific operators, other than what is made publicly available, is exempt from disclosure under section 31(1)g of the FOIA (‘law enforcement’) and therefore will not be released.
31(1) provides that Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice – :
- (g) the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2)
The relevant purpose referred to subsection (2) are –
- (c) the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise
- (d) the purpose of ascertaining a person’s fitness or competence in relation to the management of bodies corporate or in relation to any profession or other activity which he is, or seeks to become authorised to carry on.
Having acknowledged that the requested information is exempt under section 31 it is necessary that I consider a public interest test to identify whether there is a wider public interest in disclosing this information as opposed to maintaining the exemption.
We recognise that there is a legitimate public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of the Commission and the importance of having sufficient information in the public domain to support consumers with their choice of operator. It is important that the public are assured that the Commission is ensuring that any individuals who are involved in providing gambling facilities to the public have undergone the necessary due diligence checks and will uphold the licencing objectives ensuring that consumers are protected.
However, there is an expectation of confidence in much of the Commission’s work, particularly with regards to information it asks for to not only ascertain if a licence should be granted but also the tools and techniques the Commission utilises as part of this process. It is the impact on this work of the Commission which is more likely to be affected by disclosure.
As such, whilst public disclosure of this information may, by way of demonstrating our proactive work in this area, increase confidence in the Commission as a regulator and its ability to uphold the law disclosure of the requested information would prejudice the future regulatory responsibilities of the Commission, by exposing techniques and practices to the detriment of the public interest.
Releasing this information would undermine our relationship with operators as the information that they provide to us as part of the application process is done so on the understanding that this will not be released into the public domain. If this information was disclosed, it would damage the relationship that we have formed with operators which would result in them being less likely to share information with us in the future which would undermine our regulatory functions and, as a consequence, have a detrimental impact on the wider public.
Establishing trust with operators is key to having open and frank exchanges and this, in turn, will make operators more inclined to provide commercially sensitive information on the basis it is trusted to be kept with appropriate safeguards.
Disclosing the requested information without sufficient rationale would undermine this trust and make operators less likely to cooperate fully in the future. The Commission considers that if it were to be in a situation in the future where it must use its formal powers to compel the provision of information then this information, provided under compulsion, would be of a different and arguably less satisfactory quality than if information was voluntarily supplied.
Having considered the arguments for and against disclosure of the requested information, the Commission’s view is that the public interest is best served through maintaining this exemption. Disclosure would be likely to discourage operators from being open and honest with us and may also frustrate our investigative methods which could lead to a less compliant industry overall.
Review of the decision
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request you are entitled to an internal review of our decision. You should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP or by reply to this email.
Please note, internal review requests should be made within 40 working days of the initial response. Requests made outside this timeframe will not be processed.
If you are not content with the outcome of our review, you may then apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have already exhausted the review procedure provided by the Gambling Commission.
The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office (opens in a new tab), Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Information Management Team
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP
Internal Review Request
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of Gambling Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Betindex Operating Licence'.
As has been stated on others' requests, section 31 cannot apply as you have publically stated that your policies have been changed since 2015, and so how the Gambling commission operated over 6 years ago, will have no relevance to how they operate now (and rightly so).
I'd also argue that given that the APPG and Iain Duncan Smith MP have branded the Gambling Commission as 'not fit for purpose', the Public Accounts committee have commented on a "slow, weak" regulator and even the Gambling Commission previously stated their funding model 'not fit for purpose', releasing 7 year old information is likely to have no more effect on confidence the public and others have in the Gambling Commissions regulation. In particular reference to Football Index, there has already been an independant report which has highlighted many of the GCs and FCAs shortcomings, so I'd be shocked as to any detrimental effect releasing the information requested would bring.
Internal Review Response
Further to your Freedom of Information request dated 17/01/2022 which we responded to on 14/02/2022, and your subsequent request for an internal review received on 14/02/2022, we have now concluded our review and our findings are detailed below. This internal review was conducted by someone who was not involved in the processing of your original request.
Your original request was:
On 28/08/15 during an assessment of Betindex Limited trading as Football Index document OL43061 was produced which contained several issues requiring further information. Please provide a copy of that document plus Second Website Review which found a few remaining issues. In our original response, we advised that we do hold information falling within the scope of your request, however we considered that information about particular operators, that is not otherwise in the public domain, is exempt from disclosure under section 31(1)g of the FOIA (‘law enforcement’) and therefore we did not release it.
However, the review has concluded that we are able to release the information to you in response to your request. Please find information attached and note that we hold no other documents in relation to this request. Please note that some of the information contained within these documents is exempt from disclosure as they contain personal information. The Data Protection Act 2018 requires personal data to be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject. It is the view of the Commission that disclosing the personal information within the information that has been provided would constitute the disclosure of personal data and would contravene this principle.
This information is therefore exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Information Commissioner has previously indicated in a similar request also relating to Betindex, that personal information must be removed from disclosed documentation even where the public interest lies in favour of disclosure of the documentation.
If you are not content with the outcome of your review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Gambling Commission. The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
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