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Due diligence on BetIndex licence application

Request date: 16 March 2021

This version was printed or saved on: 5 December 2022

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/freedomofinformation/due-diligence-on-betindex-licence-application

Request

Please provide the following information under Freedom of Information legislation:

A copy of the due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to granting the betting licence to that organisation.

The information sought includes any evaluation the Gambling Commission carried out on the Football Index business model.

Please confirm receipt of my FOI request.

Response

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 the due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to granting the betting licence to that organisation.

The information sought includes any evaluation the Gambling Commission carried out on the Football Index business model.

The Commission seeks to ensure, through its compliance work, that a licensee is suitable to hold a licence and that they conduct themselves in a way which is consistent with the licensing objectives, the requirements of the Act, and the conditions of their licences and related codes of practice.

All applicants are required to supply the Commission with sufficient and complete information to support their application, and in particular information that will enable an assessment of their suitability to be made.

Further details of the Commission’s regulatory policies in relation to: assessing risk, licensing operators and key personnel, carrying out compliance activities and regulatory & criminal enforcement can be viewed on the Commission website.

Licensing compliance and enforcement policy statement.

I can confirm that the Commission does hold information falling within the scope of your request. However, as the information relates to documents gathered in the course of regulatory assessment for an individual operator, the Commission is not in a position to release this information into the public domain.

As such, the information you have requested is exempt under section 31 of the FOIA. Please see attached document for further explanation of this.

Kind regards

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

Explanation of the exemption applied - Section 31

Section 31(1)(g) (‘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):

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.

In favour of disclosure

Public interest arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption

Balance of public interest arguments

Given the points considered, the Commission believes that the interests of the public are better served through maintaining the exemption. The nature of the information requested may prejudice the outcome of any future regulatory work by the Commission.

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 both consumers and operators.

However, disclosure of the information would be damaging to the Commission as a regulatory body which ultimately serves to protect the wider public interest.

Having weighed these issues, the Commission is of the view that the public interest is best served through maintaining this exemption.

Internal Review Request

Thank you for responding to my FOI request.  Unfortunately, the response is not satisfactory and so I am requesting an internal review.

I disagree with your reliance on section 31 of the FOIA.  You have not carried out the prejudice test and demonstrated that the claimed prejudice is real, actual or of substance or the link between disclosure and harm in the circumstances of this case.  The specific circumstances of this case include the fact the company has financially collapsed into administration.

I disagree with your assessment of the public interest (“the public interest test”). You have carried out a generic ‘cut and paste’ public interest test that does not consider the specific circumstances of this case.  I believe the public interest favours disclosure.  The specific circumstances of this case include that many thousands of customers have lost thousands of pounds of their money due the financial collapse of this organisation.  The Gambling Commission was the regulatory body.

Internal Review Response

Further to your Freedom of Information request dated 16/03/21 which we responded to on 15/04/21, and your subsequent request for an internal review received on15/04/21, 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 and was of a more senior position.

Your request was for the following information:

A copy of the due diligence carried out by the Gambling Commission on Bet Index Limited trading as Football Index prior to granting the betting licence to that organisation.

The information sought includes any evaluation the Gambling Commission carried out on the Football Index business model.

In our response we advised you that this information was exempt under S31 – Law Enforcement.

The Commission regulates 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: a) preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
b) ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
c) protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

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 Act 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 Gambling Act 2005 and our Statement of Principles.

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.

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

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.

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

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 caused by disclosure.

The Commission feels that the disclosure of this information ‘would prejudice’ the regulatory functions 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.Therefore, on balance, the public interest is in favour of engaging the S31(2)(d) exemption when considering the impact upon the Commission’s ability to perform its regulatory functions

In conclusion, I uphold our original decision that the S31 exemption is engaged and it is not in the public interest to release the 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.

ICO Decision Notice

IC-103690-T0BO (ico.org.uk) (PDF opens in a new tab)

Response

Further to the recent ICO decision notice re Case Reference: IC-103690-T0B0 dated 12 November 2021, we attach the information that you requested for the due diligence that was carried out on Bet Index prior to granting the licence in 2015

This information was originally provided to the ICO in an excel spreadsheet format, however, to assist you in reading this information we have provided the same information in a word document.

Please note, we have redacted from this information, the information the Commission holds relating to identifiable individuals that would constitute 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 document 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.

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