Minister quits over delays to fixed-odds betting terminal stake cut

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Tracey Crouch, the sports minister has resigned because it is said that she is furious over a private meeting between the culture secretary and Philip Davies. Pro-gambling MP Philip Davies successfully secured a delay to curb the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) maximum stakes, by defying Tracey Crouch on a policy that she had overseen. After Mr Davies went behind her back, friends of Tracey say that she is furious after Jeremy Wright; the digital, culture, media and sports secretary had a one-on-one discussion with Philip.

Pro-Gambling MP Secured Delay in FOBT Sanctions

It was in May this year, that the news hit of a new gambling curb on the FOBT’s, which are known as the crack-cocaine of the gambling industry. Maximum stakes would be reduced from £100 to £2 per game and was due to come into effect this month, but the new changes won’t be implemented until April 2019, thanks to what the government calls a ‘social blight’.

It was in 2016 that Crouch launched the FOBT review and she believed that Davies was purely responsible for persuading Wright to choose October as the date for the changes, to allow the bookies to make an extra £900m from the betting machines.

Resignation Letter

“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.

Yours ever,

Tracey Crouch MP.”