Regulatory review of Spreadex Limited
Dear Gambling Commission,
On the 2nd July 2021, the commission began a regulatory review of Spreadex Limited, as a result of a compliance assessment conducted in May 2021.
On enforcement on 25th August 2022, it was mentioned in the public statement that "Spreadex showed insight into the seriousness of the breaches and self-suspended its casino actives for 5 months to mitigate risk"
Can you please confirm whether the review for Spreadex related to just the Casino side of the business, or for all three licences that Spreadex Limited held at the time.
Can you please also provide any communications with the Financial Conduct Authority relating to the Spreadex review and enforcement action between the compliance assessment in May 2021 and present? Happy for redactions as appropriate for the FOIA.
Thank you for your request regarding the regulatory review of Spreadex Limited the Commission conducted in July 2021, as a result of a compliance assessment conducted in May 2021.
Your request has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
Firstly, you asked us to confirm whether the review for Spreadex related to just the Casino side of the business, or for all three licences that Spreadex Limited held at the time.
I can confirm that the review was into Spreadex Ltd’s combined remote operating licence - licence number 000-008835-R-104580-017. The following activities were held under that licence:
- General Betting Standard - Real Event – Remote,
- General Betting Standard - Virtual Event – Remote
- Casino – Remote
Further details can be read in the public statement, published on the Gambling Commission website:
Secondly, you have requested any communications with the Financial Conduct Authority relating to the Spreadex review and enforcement action between the compliance assessment in May 2021 and present? Happy for redactions as appropriate for the FOIA.
I can confirm that a small number of records are held by the Gambling Commission falling within the scope of this part of your request. However, we consider these records to be exempt in their entirety by virtue of s31 of the FOIA.
Our considerations for engaging this exemption are as follows:
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
Public interest test
The factors the Commission has considered when applying the public interest test have been detailed below.
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.
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 regarding the external conversations that take place between the Commission and regulatory bodies, 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.
The amount of specific information the Commission can release relating to our specific discussions about a licensee could lead to potentially non-compliant licenses altering their behaviour specifically to meet the Commission’s standards purely for assessment purposes. This in turn may impact on the Commission’s function of ascertaining a gambling operator’s fitness to carry out gambling activities.
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.
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 conversations between Commission staff and the FCA is very unlikely to contribute to a proper understanding of the regulatory activities of the Commission.
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.
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