GC offers guidance to licensees leaving market

3 October 2019

The British Gambling Commission has issued advice for licensees leaving the market, a little over six months after Irish sports betting operator BetBright’s closure left customers in limbo as to the status of their bets.

“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 Commission said. “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.

“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.”

BetBright closed its operations in March of this year, after its acquisition by 888 Holdings and announced that it would cease offering gambling services to customers “on a permanent basis” and that all unsettled bets would be voided. BetVictor later offered to settle the company’s bets.

At the time, the Gambling Commission said the return of stakes was the “best option available” for customers.

With its latest statement, the Commission has further clarified both the steps an operator at risk of insolvency should take and the steps a company should take after leaving the market.

“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 [and] give consumers information about the level of funds protection in place. This is a requirement of our licence conditions,” the Commission said.

“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 [and] discharge all their liabilities to their consumers whenever possible.”

The regulator also said that companies planning to leave the market should provide the Commission with a clear plan for its steps regarding bets that have not been settled.