In a landmark move, the UK Gambling Commission has issued voiding orders for the first time under the Gambling Act 2005, after concluding an investigation into suspicious betting patterns involving three employees of media channel Virgin Media during last year's series of the popular weekly TV talent show The X Factor.
The Commission has voided bets totalling over £16,000 which were placed on The X Factor, and follows an investigation into a report of suspicious betting activity brought to its attention by Betfair’s Integrity Unit.
The investigation established that three individuals employed by phone line operator Virgin Media were misusing their access to Virgin’s data on voting patterns to place unfair bets on which contestants would be eliminated from The X Factor. The employees have since been sacked by Virgin.
“There is no evidence that the integrity of the public voting or the TV shows involved were compromised,” said the Gambling Commission in statement. “However, the Commission has consulted with Ofcom, which has been working with Virgin Media and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that firm steps are taken to prevent a repeat of such activity.”
The voiding orders mean that any contract or other arrangement in relation to each bet is void and that any money paid in relation to each bet - whether by way of stake, winnings, commission or otherwise - shall be repaid to the person who paid it, and repayment may be enforced as a debt due to that person.
The voiding orders also indicate that Betfair should, to the extent that it may be in its power to do so, cause affected Betfair customers to be repaid.
“Following a multi-agency investigation led by the Gambling Commission, we are satisfied that the bets placed were substantially unfair as the individuals involved had inside information,” said Nick Tofiluk, director of regulation for the Gambling Commission.
“We have worked closely with all the bodies involved to ensure that those individuals do not profit from their activity and that appropriate action has been taken to prevent a recurrence of such activity in the future.”