In May 2018, the Government announced plans to curb the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s), from £100 to just £2 and the new sanctions were due to be implemented from October 2018, but a delay in this has seen the sports minister; Tracey Crouch hand in her letter of resignation.
Friends of Tracey Crouch say she is furious over a secret meeting between the culture secretary and pro-gambling Philip Davies. Mr Davies went above her head and successfully secured a delay in the max betting restrictions on FOBT’s.
Fixed odds betting terminals are known as the crack-cocaine of the gambling industry but with the delay in rolling out this new legislation, it is predicted to bring the bookies an extra £900m in revenue.
“It is with great sadness that I write to tender my resignation as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Sport And Civil Society. Your personal support earlier this year for a reduction in the stake of fixed odds betting terminals was incredibly welcome and a real reflection of your ambitions set out in your very first speech on the steps of Downing Street to support vulnerable people against the power of big business.
I cannot begin to explain how many people got in touch to congratulate Government on its stance, including addicts, their families and also, sadly, those who have been left behind after loved ones took their own lives as a consequence of addiction. Unfortunately, implementation of these changes are now being delayed until October 2019 due to commitments made by others to those with registered interests.
From the time of the announcement to reduce stakes and its implementation over £1.6bn will be lost on these machines, a significant amount of which will be in our most deprived areas including my own constituency. In addition, two people will tragically take their lives every day due to gambling related problems and for that reason as much as any other I believe this delay is unjustifiable.
The alignment of the stake reduction with an increase in remote gaming duty was a condition put on by the Treasury to provide fiscal neutrality but is not a technical necessity, so there is no reason why implementation cannot come in sooner than October. I know there is never a good time to resign and appreciate that this will be an unwelcome distraction but as the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in the House this morning, it is a fact of Government that ministers must adhere to collective responsibility and cannot disagree with policy, let alone when it is policy made against your wishes relating to your own portfolio. I would like to place on the record my enormous gratitude to the amazing team of civil servants who have helped me over the past three and a half years in post. I am very proud of what we have achieved in that time including the sports strategy, the gambling review, the Civil Society strategy and of course the most recent loneliness strategy, which I was humbled to lead on your behalf. I have had the privilege of meeting many charities, volunteers and social enterprises working collectively to support and enhance civil society; cheered on our summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes; and have attended almost every major sporting event meeting great sports men and women past, present and future.
I hope you understand my position and accept my resignation with the sadness it is tended.
Tracey Crouch MP.”