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The UK parliament debated a controversial new football trading platform yesterday (24 April) with parallels drawn to the collapsed Football Index gambling product.

Shadow levelling up minister Liz Twist questioned the danger of KiX in the wake of a Sunday Times piece that revealed disgraced Football Index founder Adam Cole was involved in the project.

The crypto and NFT-powered football trading platform lists the Football Index, which left thousands of customers out-of-pocket following its collapse, as a “proof of concept”.

Football Index was a Jersey-licensed platform that functioned akin to a stock market, enabling “traders” to wager on the future performance of football players.

The business went into administration in 2021 and had its gambling licence suspended following a series of issues stemming from policy changes and share-price crashes.

Over £100m of customer funds were trapped inside the system after Football Index’s collapse, with many suffering life-changing losses as a result.

Past regulatory failures

The shadow minister highlighted the 2021 Sheehan Report that found regulatory failures by both the Gambling Commission and Financial Conduct Authority in protecting consumers from Football Index.

Twist said: “I do not want my constituents to be caught up in a scheme that replicates the problems of Football Index, so we need to learn the lessons.”

During the debate MPs from both parties argued the novelty of the gambling products had led to previous failings.  

The 2021 report had recommended the Commission have greater scrutiny of new gambling-related products coming to market and more consideration of how language affected consumer understanding of these products.

It also called for the gambling regulator to be able to have faster decision making and action processes.

Is KiX beyond the Gambling Commission’s scope?

The Commission is currently reviewing elements of the KiX product but warned it may fall outside the scope of its regulation, due to being a crypto product, said Twist.

The UKGC has previously said that Football Index blurred the lines between gambling and investing.

Twist added: “If Football Index blurred the lines, KiX is seemingly crossing over them altogether to create a similar product in an unregulated market.

“Having seen the impact on Football Index victims, how could we possibly permit another product that preys on football fans by persuading them to part with hard-earned income and invest in their knowledge of football?”

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew should approve an independent review of the evidence gathered by the Football Index Action Group, argued Twist.

The minister himself spoke at the debate and outlined current steps the Gambling Commission was taking with KiX.

This included a review by its legal and compliance teams about whether the platform constituted gambling, and by writing to the individuals behind KiX to better understand their intentions.

Andrew said: “I want to be clear that I and the Government recognise the serious consequences that the collapse of Football Index has had on consumers.

“As I said, I sympathise with all those affected. It is important that we ensure that a similar scenario cannot happen again.”

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