The UK’s Gambling Commission has issued guidance for gambling businesses that close down their operations, setting out the expectation that customers should not end up disadvantaged.
Earlier this year, Betbright sold its sports betting platform to 888 for £15m before telling its customers that all unsettled single bets would be voided. At the time, the UKGC stated it could not compel an operator to stay in business until all ante-posts bets have come in, noting that the return of stakes was the “best option available” for most customers.
The UKGC stated today: “Even where a business becomes insolvent, we still may act against both the operating licensee and any relevant personal management licensees if there have been failings. We will also consider a licensee’s conduct in any future licence application they make. If we consider there has been wrongdoing, such as fraud or illegal trading, we can refer this to the relevant enforcement agency.
“We expect all gambling businesses to have plans in place and take steps to make sure that consumers are not unnecessarily disadvantaged if they do have to close for whatever reason. The best outcome for consumers will depend on the specific circumstances. If a business is insolvent (unable to pay its debts) then it cannot legally carry on trading.
“On an ongoing basis, we expect businesses to do the following: be aware of their liabilities and check they can cover these; warn consumers placing long-term bets that their stakes and winnings are not secured in the event of insolvency; give consumers information about the level of funds protection in place. This is a requirement of our licence conditions.
“If the business decides to close, we expect them to do the following: provide clear and concise information to consumers; show they are in control of the situation by keeping consumers updated and giving information on any potential routes for redress (communication should include all available means including direct contact and wider messages on social media); discharge all their liabilities to their consumers whenever possible.”