UK sports minister resigns over delay to FOBT stake cut

UK sports minister resigns over delay to FOBT stake cut

Friday, November 2, 2018 Posted by News Team
Houses of Parliament
However Prime Minister claims cut has been brought forward - not delayed

The UK Chancellor’s decision to delay cutting the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 has prompted Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch to resign in protest. 

On Monday (October 29th) Chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2019 Budget revealed that FOBT stakes would be cut in October 2019. This prompted an outcry from Members of Parliament from both the Labour Party and Hammond’s own Conservative Party, who had demanded the cut be brought in from April 2019. 

As a result of the delay, Crouch said that she had to resign as she was unable to support the delayed implementation of the cut. 

In her letter of resignation to Prime Minster Theresa May, Crouch said that the delay was “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 [Chatham and Aylesford] constituency,” Crouch wrote. “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.

Crouch noted that while the stake reduction was to be introduced in tandem with an increase in remote gaming duty to 21%, this was not a technical necessity, so there was “no reason” why implementation could not come sooner than October.

A number of Conservative MPs are thought to be willing to rebel against the party to push for an amendment to the Budget that will allow the stake cut to be brought in from April 2019, among them former party leader Iain Duncan Smith. 

In her response to Crouch’s resignation May noted that she was “disappointed” but echoed comments made by Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright in claiming that the implementation of the cut had not been delayed. Wright said in the House of Commons that the government had originally been planning to bring in the cut from 2020, but had instead brought it forward a year.

“There has been no delay in bringing forward this important measure,” May wrote. “Indeed, as you know from your work as the Minister responsible, we have listened to those that wanted it to come into effect sooner than April 2020 and have agreed that the changes should take place within the year - by October 2019.”

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