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GB Gambling Commission confirms investigation into potential election betting offences

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has confirmed it is investigating potential offences in relation to betting on the date of the upcoming general election.

According to the BBC, the Commission had opened an inquiry into Conservative candidate for Bristol North West Laura Saunders over a bet on the election date, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set for 4 July.

It is not known whether the bet was placed online or via a betting shop, or which company it was placed with.

Responding to a request for comment from iGB, the UKGC confirmed it was looking into several election betting offences but it declined to comment on specific cases.

“The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public,” a Commission spokesperson said. “Currently the Commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election. 

“This is an ongoing investigation and the Commission cannot provide any further details at this time. We are not confirming or denying the identity of any individuals involved in this investigation,” they added.

More reports of election betting

The case follows other recent reports of insider betting on the election date.

A police officer, who had been working as part of the prime minister’s protection team, was recently arrested over allegedly betting on the general election date.

The Metropolitan Police officer was initially suspended before being arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, although the individual has since been bailed pending further inquiries.

The Gambling Commission informed the Metropolitan Police it was investigating alleged bets made by a police constable from the Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, the BBC said.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Craig Williams was reported to have placed a £100 (€118/$128) bet on a July election date on 19 May, before the election date was announced, via the Ladbrokes betting app.

Ladbrokes flagged the bet at the time as placed by a politically exposed person (PEP). Operators are required to carry out enhanced due diligence on any PEP before they allow them to gamble. This may then result in placing certain limits on their accounts.

The bet would reportedly have paid out £500 at odds of 5/1. 

Following the incident Williams acknowledged that his bet on the election date has resulted in “routine inquiries”.

UKGC reiterates guidance on election betting 

The UKGC has not confirmed whether it is investigating these specific cases, although it has issued guidance on rules for using confidential information to gain an advantage when betting. 

“If someone uses confidential information in order to gain an unfair advantage when betting, this may constitute an offence of cheating under Section 42 of the Gambling Act, which is a criminal offence,” a spokesperson told iGB.

Section 42 sets out how someone can be seen as committing an offence if they cheat at gambling or do anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling.

Those found guilty could face up to two years in prison, a fine, or both. 

Operators urged to clarify terms of business

In a blog covering Williams’ case and the matter of insider information in this example, UK law firm Wiggin noted that it’s unusual for politicians to be caught up in allegations of bet fixing or “cheating”, particularly as “they can – and do – place bets against political opponents or on the success of those within their own party”.

The firm believes Williams has potentially committed a criminal offence, regardless of whether he acted dishonestly or not.

In the note Wiggin applauds Ladbrokes for acting in the case of Williams, adding that operators should also ensure their terms of business are drafted with sufficient clarity and legal force to allow them to void any bets where cheating is suspected.

In terms of the charges individuals may face, legal action will likely depend on whether the cases are “high impact” enough. This remains to be seen and decided. 

A UKGC policy position paper dated August 2018 clarified that inside information is information known by an individual or individuals as a “result of their role in connection with an event and which is not in the public domain”.

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