Under the radar
An unlicensed soccer trading site in the UK is causing concern among victims of the recent Football Index collapse. Much like Football Index, SportsBroker allows users to buy and trade soccer shares that rise or fall based on a team’s performance.
did not fall within the Commission’s remit to regulate”
As reported by EGR, SportsBroker has previously had its application for a UK gaming license rejected by the UK Gambling Commission. A spokesperson from the company said: “The product that they advised us that they were offering did not fall within the Commission’s remit to regulate,” noting specifically “Section 3 of the Gambling Act 2005.”
In its terms and conditions, the website makes clear that it is “not considered a gambling product.” Despite this, the site also directs players towards gambling charity GambleAware. According to EGR, SportsBroker has also held a Malta Gaming Authority license for four years.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority also reportedly rejected an application from the firm, ruling that it could not consider the platform a financial product.
Another trading site
The collapse of soccer trading website Football Index in March caused major issues for its many users. It announced a significant reduction in maximum dividends, destroying customer account values, before announcing the complete collapse of the company. This trapped users’ cash within the site.
In response to fears of another Football Index situation, SportsBroker has described its model as “entirely different” to that of the collapsed operator. It noted that it does not add liquidity to the pool via minting of shares, also pointing out that users play each other on a closed loop.
Meanwhile, Matt Zarb-Cousin, the founder of Clean Up Gambling, has voiced his concern regarding SportsBroker. He said that the company “aren’t supposed to advertise” in the UK if they don’t have approval from the UKGC. The company does, however, have a sponsorship agreement with Huddersfield Town soccer club.
A test for the UKGC
Unlike SportsBroker, Football Index parent company BetIndex Limited did actually have a UKGC license. The regulator suspended its permit after its collapse in March, but by that point, it was too late for the many customers who had lost cash.
The UKGC took a substantial amount of criticism for its handling of the Football Index collapse. It prompted a full government-led investigation into the regulator’s response. Since then, the UKGC has pledged to change its processes to ensure failings do not reoccur.