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All due diligence carried out on BetIndex Limited

Request date: 22 December 2021

This version was printed or saved on: 20 July 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/freedomofinformation/all-due-diligence-carried-out-by-the-commission-on-betindex-limited

Request

I have already clarified the position with the Information Commissioner's Office and they have informed me to request the information from you - which is what I am doing. I am requesting disclosure of the redacted personal information on the basis that the public interest favours disclosure. I am also requesting all due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to that concern being granted a gambling licence.  It should be clear to you what constitutes due diligence. It was the Gambling Commission that granted the licence so you must know what constitutes due diligence and the extent of that diligence.

If you wish to refuse to provide the information then please be clear and then I will appeal that decision to the ICO.

Acknowledgement

You submitted a new request on 22 December 2021 which, for ease of handling, we have split into two requests (REDACTED and REDACTED) which we will acknowledge separately.

Response

Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

In your email you have requetsed all due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to that concern being granted a gambling licence. The information requested includes other assessments and documents including but not limited to Fame Ventures application and website checks.

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.

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:

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 the Commission does hold information falling within the scope of your request.

The information we are able to release falling within the scope of your request has been attached for your perusal. Please note that due to the volume of information we are providing this will be sent to you in 3 emails.

Please note that some of the information contained within these documents is exempt and had been redacted accordingly, as follows:

The remaining documents that we hold which also fall within the scope of your request, of which there are approximately 15, we consider to be exempt in their entirety by virtue of Section 31 and/or Section 40. We have set out below which exemptions have been engaged.

S31- Law Enforcement

Section 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:

The relevant purpose referred to subsection (2) are:

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.

There is an expectation of confidence in much of the Commission’s work, particularly with regards 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.

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.

Section 40 – Personal Information

Information that we hold that relates to identifiable individuals constitutes personal data.

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 attached documents and the documents that have been exempt in their entirety 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.

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
Gambling Commission
Victoria Square House
Victoria Square
Birmingham B2 4BP

Internal Review Request

Thank you for responding to my foi request. However, unfortunately, the response is not satisfactory so I am requesting an internal review.

I note that some information is redacted and other information is withheld. I am seeking full disclosure of all information in the public interest.

Like previous responses, you have carried out a generic public interest test which does not consider the specific circumstances of this case.

I (the public) have a legitimate interest in the disclosure of personal information currently withheld given the circumstances of this company.

The reviewer should check whether the response provided is complete.

Please confirm receipt of my request for internal review.

Internal Review Response

Further to your Freedom of Information request dated 22/12/21 which we responded to on 21/01/22, and your subsequent request for an internal review received on 24/01/22, 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 request was for disclosure of all due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to that concern being granted a gambling licence. The information requested includes other assessments and documents including but not limited to Fame Ventures application and website checks.

In our response dated 21/01/22 we provided you with some of the information that we hold which falls within the scope of your request. We advised that the remaining information that we hold was exempt under S31 – Law Enforcement and S40 – Personal Information.

The review has concluded that we are able to release some further information to you in response to your request. Please find additional information attached.

Please note that some of the information contained within these documents is exempt as follows:

The small amount of remaining material that we hold (approximately 5 documents), which also falls within the scope of your request, we consider to be exempt in its entirety by virtue of Section 31 and/or Section 40. We have set out which exemptions have been engaged.

Section 31 – Law Enforcement

The Gambling Commission (the Commission) was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 (’the Act’) to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain in partnership with licensing authorities. We also regulate the National Lottery following a merger with the National Lottery Commission in 2013.

Section 22 of the Act sets out that the Commission has a statutory duty to promote the licensing objectives as laid out in section 1 of the Act, which are:

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 assesses suitability against criteria set out in the Act. Part 5 of the Act details the Commission’s statutory functions in relation to the licensing requirements.

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 we use to assess whether a person or entity is fit to hold a licence is considered to be exempt under S31(2)(d). This is because disseminating this information would reveal the methods and techniques the Commission uses to award licences. This information is strictly confidential. It could seriously impact the Commission’s ability to assess applicant suitability, if information relating to how it gathers information and evidence as part of the application process became known; this is strongly not in 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. The argument for withholding this information is further strengthened where the information relates to an active operator such as Fame Ventures.

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.

There is an expectation of confidence in much of the Commission’s work, particularly as regards information it asks for to not only ascertain if a licence should be granted but to monitor this and check compliance. It is the impact on this work of the Commission which is more likely to be affected by disclosure as there is a legitimate argument that gambling operators will be reluctant to voluntarily supply information requested of them if they believe it may be disclosed. This in turn may impact on the Commission’s function of ascertaining a gambling operator’s fitness to carry out gambling activities.

In addition, the license application form expressly states that information provided will be treated in confidence. Information that is provided to us by operators as part of the application process includes information that is not publicly available about a private organisation and this information is provided to us to enable us to make a full and proper assessment of the operator before the licence is granted. This information may relate to other private businesses which are still active and this information has been provided on the understanding that this will not be disclosed further.

If this information was to be disclosed it would seriously impede the Commission’s ability to fulfil its statutory functions in the most efficient way possible, to the detriment of the public interest.

Looking at all the circumstances of the case and the nature of the request, there is more than a 50% chance that prejudice to the Commission would be likely to be caused by disclosure.

The Commission feels that the disclosure of this information ‘would be likely to prejudice’ the regulatory functions of the commission.

An Independent Review of the Regulation of Betindex has been published which provides further information regarding the regulation of BetIndex.

Report of the Independent Review of the Regulation of BetIndex Limited Malcolm Sheehan Q.C. 13 September 2021 (PDF)

Public Interest Test

The factors the Commission has considered when applying the public interest test have been detailed below and it is our view that the public interest lies in favour of applying the exemption.

In favour of disclosure

We recognise that there is a public interest in promoting the accountability and transparency of the Commission. It is important that the public are assured that the Commission is carrying out its functions in 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.

The Commission acknowledges that there could be positive advantages from disclosing this information as the matter under consideration is the subject of public concern and publication of this information could alleviate these concerns and curtail speculation on the robustness of Commission processes, particularly in the case of Bet Index.

In favour of maintaining the exemption

Information we use to assess whether a person or entity is fit to hold a licence is considered to be exempt under S31(2)(d). This is because disseminating this information would reveal the methods and techniques the Commission uses to award licences. This information is strictly confidential. It could seriously impact the Commission’s ability to assess applicant suitability, if information relating to how it gathers information and evidence as part of the application process became known; this is strongly not in the public interest as it would impair the Commission’s ability to regulate effectively.

In addition, the license application form expressly states that information provided will be treated in confidence.

The information that is publicly available on our website clearly sets out the assessment process that applies to all licence applications.

Weighing the balance

Looking at all the circumstances of the case and the nature of the request, there is more than a 50% chance that prejudice would be likely to be caused by disclosure.

The Commission relies on submissions from operators and third parties to enable it to review licence holders thoroughly and fairly. We encourage operators to make frank submissions to us regarding licensing and compliance matters to allow us to take appropriate steps in a timely manner. Releasing information about our regulatory work with a specific operator and the mechanisms that we have in place to support that application process into the public domain, would deter stakeholders from sharing important information with us and as such prejudicing our regulatory functions and impeding the future work of the Commission.

Section 31 (1)(g) of the Freedom of Information Act (‘law enforcement’) provides that information held by a public authority is exempt if its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the exercise of a public authority of its functions for any of the purposes specified in subsection 2. On balance, the public interest in maintaining the application of the S31(2)(d) exemption, is greater than the public interest in disclosure of the remaining documentation relating to the due diligence of the Betindex licence application.

The Commission feels that the disclosure of this information ‘would be likely to prejudice’ the regulatory functions of the commission and future investigations.

Section 40 – Personal Information

Information that we hold that relates to identifiable individuals constitutes personal data.

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 and the information that has been withheld 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.

In conclusion, I uphold our original decision that the S31 exemption and the S40 exemptions are engaged for some of the information that we hold and it is not in the public interest to release the requested information.

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.

Kind regards

Freedom of Information Team Gambling Commission

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