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Communications regarding BetIndex

Request date: 21 November 2022

This version was printed or saved on: 15 June 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/freedomofinformation/communications-regarding-betindex

Request

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 19 October 2022 and 25-27 October 2022

I write regarding your letter received by email on 16/11/22 and would like to amend my 19 requests to a more manageable number. My requests were not designed to result in a disproportionate level of disruption but to gain further information and understanding regarding the Commission’s actions regarding Betindex Limited and associated companies.

Therefore, I am withdrawing my previous 19 FOI requests and am making 5 new requests below:

  1. 8th March 2021 meeting with Betindex requested 27/10/22
  2. 7th February 2020 Licencing Division letter to Betindex and response requested 26/10/22
  3. 1st July 2019 internal email regarding operating licence for Betexchange requested 26/10/22
  4. 24th September 2019 FCA Intelligence Division email requested 26/10/22
  5. 4th March 2018 Betindex submitted a letter in response describing the business requested 26/10/22

Response

Dear Sir

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

In your email you have requested:

  1. On or around 4 March 2018 Betindex Limited submitted a letter in response to it’s financial position describing the business. Please supply a full copy of this letter redacted where necessary.
  2. On 1 July 2019 an internal email was sent by a member of the Commission’s Licencing Division regarding the application submitted for an operating licence for Betexchange. Please provide a copy of that email and any subsequent responses to that email, redacted where appropriate.
  3. On 24 September 2019 the FCA’s Intelligence Division emailed the GC General Counsel regarding Betindex Limited. Please provide a copy of that email, redacted where appropriate.
  4. On 7 February 2020 the Licencing Division wrote to Betindex Limited seeking further information. Please provide a copy of that letter and the response received on 11 February 2020 in full, redacted where appropriate.
  5. On 8 March 2021 GC officials met with Betindex to gain an explanation about the dividend announcement and potential administration. Please provide minutes and written notes regarding this meeting, redacted where appropriate. If the meeting was held online a copy of the video and audio as well please.

I can confirm that information is held falling within the scope of your request.

Please note, in respect of point five of your request, no minutes were taken and there was no video or audio recording.

Please find attached information we are able to provide in relation to parts one, two and five of your request.

Some of the information contained within these documents is exempt and had been redacted as follows:

Documents 04.03.2018 and 08.03.2021 contain information which we consider to be exempt under s31 - Law Enforcement

Document 01.07.2019 contains information which we consider to be exempt under s42 - Legal professional privilege

We have redacted from all of the attached documents, information relating to identifiable individuals that would constitute personal data under s40 – Personal data

The remaining documents that we hold which also fall within the scope of your request, of which there are approximately five, we consider to be exempt in their entirety by virtue of s31 of the FOIA

Our considerations for engaging these exemptions are detailed below.

Legal Professional Privilege – Section 42

Section 42(1) provides an exemption under the FOIA for Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege or, in Scotland, to confidentiality of communications could be maintained in legal proceedings is exempt information. LPP protects the confidentiality of free and frank communications between a legal advisor and a client.

Public interest test

The factors the Commission has considered when applying the public interest test have been detailed below.

In favour of disclosure:

In favour of maintaining the exemption:

Weighing the balance:

The Commission recognises that there is a public interest in disclosure of information relating to BetIndex. However, there is a greater argument in favour of safeguarding the communications between clients and their legal advisors to ensure access to full and frank legal advice. The advice provided is the opinion of a legally qualified individual and is not a definitive statement in law.

Disclosure of this information would infringe on the rights of Commission staff to gain legal advice on matters which ultimately could impact on consumers.

On balance, we consider that the public interest is better served by withholding the documents ensuring that the provision of legal advice is safeguarded.

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)(a) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether any person has failed to comply with the law, ii. Subsection 31(2)(b) refers to the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is responsible for any conduct which is improper, iii. 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, iv. 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) Undermine the Commission’s ability to fulfil its statutory functions

ii) Impact the Commission’s objective of raising overall standards in the gambling industry

Public interest test

The factors the Commission has considered when applying the public interest test have been detailed below.

In favour of disclosure:

In favour of maintaining the exemption:

Report of the Independent Review of the Regulation of BetIndex Limited(opens in new tab)

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.

Looking at all the circumstances of the case and the nature of the request, the Commission considers that the relevant prejudice identified above would be caused to the Commission by disclosure and this weighs in the balance when considering the question of public interest. Public knowledge of the internal conversations between Commission staff and specific correspondence with operators is very unlikely to contribute to a proper understanding of the regulatory activities of the Commission.

There is sufficient information already published on our website to satisfy the public interest in this matter in general terms and the independent report in relation to the collapse of BetIndex, which considers the Commission’s regulatory functions serve any specific public interest in that respect.

We consider that the public interest is better served by withholding the documents 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.

Personal Information - Section 40

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 contained within the attached documents would constitute the disclosure of personal data and would contravene this principle.

This includes the email addresses, opinions and any other personal identifiable information.

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

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