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Paddy Power Betfair penalty


Request for all the data held by the Gambling Commission regarding the Paddy Power Betfair penalty, due to failings to adequately interact with customers who were displaying signs of problem gambling, in October 2018.


I write further to your email of 26 April 2024, in which you requested data regarding the Paddy Power Betfair penalty, due to failings to adequately interact with customers who were displaying signs of problem gambling, in October 2018

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 FOIA) provides the right to request access to recorded information held by public authorities. Therefore, where you have requested more general information regarding the Paddy Power Betfair penalty, this has been processed as a request under the FOIA.

Once licensed, gambling operators are subject to ongoing compliance requirements and are subject to regulatory action should they fail to meet their licence requirements.

The Commission is a regulatory body with licensing, compliance, and enforcement functions; through our regulatory activity, the Commission aims to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry. Regulatory action may only be imposed where the Commission thinks that a condition of a licence has been breached. Section 116 of the Gambling Act (opens in a new tab) gives the Commission the power to review the performance of licence holders and their compliance with the LCCP. This section provides for two different types of review.

Following a review under section 116(1) or (2) of the Act, the Commission may:

  • decide to take no further action
  • decide to give the licensee advice as to conduct
  • decide to exercise its powers set out in section 117 of the Act (Regulatory powers).

Under Section 117 of the Gambling Act (opens in a new tab), it can:

  • give the licensee a warning
  • add, remove, or amend a condition to the licence
  • suspend a licence
  • revoke a licence
  • impose a financial penalty.

We release details of our enforcement activity through public statements. However, public statements are only available on the Gambling Commission website for 3 years from the date of issue. However, this information is still available via a digital archive service such as The Way Back Machine, the information you have requested can be viewed here.

Please note - a link to where this information is available was provided in response to this request. However, as the link may not be accessible, this has been removed from this publication.

If you would like access to the link or an accessible version of the content please contact us.

The public statements will detail the nature of the failings by the operator and the amount of the fine or settlement. Further to this, the Commission also publishes a list of recent regulatory sanctions we have imposed on licence holders.

When we publish these statements and sanctions, we take care to present as much information as possible to ensure that lessons can be learned by operators. Through our regulatory activities we aim to protect consumers and the wider public by raising standards within the gambling industry. Any information that we can publicly disclose is made available on our website at the appropriate time. However, we must also be careful not to reveal any information that could hinder our ability to conduct investigations or enable those we may investigate to avoid detection.

The Commission therefore concludes that the disclosure of any information further to that which was previously been made publicly available would prejudice the regulatory functions of the Commission and section 31 of the FOIA is engaged.

Law Enforcement – Section 31

Section 31(1)(g) exempts information whose disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection (2).

The Commission considers the subsections below apply and therefore the information is exempt from disclosure:

i. Subsection 31(2)(b) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper,

ii. Subsection 31(2)(c) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise,

iii. Subsection 31(2)(d) refers to 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

It is our view that the regulatory functions of the Commission, would be prejudiced by disclosure of this information as it would:

i. prejudice the Commission’s ability to fulfil its statutory functions by revealing how the Commission assesses operators’ and individuals as well as applications for regulatory purposes, and

ii. prejudice the Commission’s licensing, compliance and enforcement functions as well as its ability to raise overall standards in the gambling industry as it would undermine the trust the Commission has gained with operators in terms of disclosing information where it is necessary and proportionate and to cooperate in an open manner.

The Commission therefore concludes that the disclosure of this information would prejudice the regulatory functions of the Commission.

Arguments in favour of disclosure:

  • The Commission is a public body which is required to regulate the gambling industry in the public interest. There is therefore a public interest in members of the public having confidence the Commission is being open and honest with the information it holds so that it can be held to account.
  • It is important that the public are assured that the Commission is carrying out its functions in ensuring that any individuals or organisations who are involved in providing gambling facilities to the public have undergone the necessary assessments and will uphold the licencing objectives ensuring that consumers are protected.
  • Disclosure of the requested information could demonstrate to stakeholders and relevant parties how the Commission is assessing licensees and, furthermore, this disclosure may encourage stakeholders to work with us and contribute to our programme of work, increasing confidence in the Commission as a regulator and its ability to uphold the law.

Arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption:

  • The Commission has robust and effective processes and procedures in place which are utilised when assessing existing licensees. These procedures and processes have been put in place to minimise the risk of an operator continuing to provide gambling services where they do not meet the required standards. This demonstrates to the public at large that they can have confidence in the Commission’s compliance assessment processes.
  • There is an expectation of confidence in much of the Commission’s work, particularly when discussing areas of a licensee’s compliance with the LCCP. It is the impact on this work of the Commission which is more likely to be affected by disclosure.
  • Disclosing this level of detail is likely to reveal the techniques the Commission uses in general when conducting investigations. This could severely hamper the effectiveness of the Commission’s investigatory processes in future cases.
  • It could seriously impact the Commission’s investigation process, if information relating to what information it uses to inform the licence review process became known; this is strongly not in the public interest as it would impair the Commission’s ability to regulate effectively.
  • Disclosure of this information would also undermine the Commission's ability to uphold the licensing objectives which would impact on the trust and confidence of the public in it as a regulator.
  • Further, disclosure of the requested information would prejudice the outcome of future assessments by the Commission by exposing assessment techniques and practices to the detriment of the public interest.

Weighing the balance

The Commission acknowledges that there is a public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of public authorities and the importance of having sufficient information in the public domain to support consumers with their choice of operator, however, disclosure of the information would be damaging to the Commission as a regulatory body which ultimately serves to protect the wider public interest.

It is important that the public are assured that the Commission is carrying out its functions in ensuring that any individuals/organisations who are involved in providing gambling facilities to the public have undergone the necessary assessments and will uphold the licencing objectives ensuring that consumers are protected.

However, there is a strong public interest in preserving the processes that the Commission has in place to assess operators’ compliance with the LCCP and identify any operators who will be unable to comply with the licensing requirements. The public trust that the Commission has robust processes in place to assess operators so that when they use the services provided by an operator, they are confident that there has been sufficient scrutiny of that operator to ensure that they are protected. If this information were released it would undermine that confidence.

We consider that the public interest is better served by withholding this information, ensuring that consumers are protected through our processes rather than releasing information about our processes which in our view will not benefit the public as a whole.

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. 

It should be noted that if you wish to raise a complaint with the ICO about the Commission’s handling of your request for information, then you are required to do so within six weeks of receiving your final response or last substantive contact with us.

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
Gambling Commission

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