The objections to the UK Government’s decision are getting more serious by the hour. Now, it became clear that Theresa May could lose twelve more ministerial aides after they have warned the Prime Minister they will resign in case she does not reconsider the delayed crackdown on notorious fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The controversy between anti-gambling campaigners and the proponents of the machines grew stronger after the Government announced its decision to put off the implementation of the new maximum stake of FOBTs until October 2019, and especially after Tracey Crouch’s announcement that she is to quit her ministerial role due to her disappointment with the delay.
Congratulations. You predecessor resigned on a matter of principle. Are you comfortable with the new maximum bet limit on FOBTs not coming into effect until October 2019?
— Howard Sprenger (@reg_nerps) November 9, 2018
As The Times has reported, more than 70 backbenchers supported Ms. Crouch, saying they will vote “no” to the legislation set to enact the budget in the upcoming week unless the originally planned deadline for the FOBT crackdown is restored. Initially, the implementation of the new maximum stake of the machines was set for April 2019 but the authorities decided to give an extra six months to the industry in order for gambling operators to prepare for the effects of the clampdown.
The scale of the Tory rebellion has been unexpected for the Government, especially after a dozen more ministerial aides warned Ms. May they are prepared to quit in case that she does not back down on the delay. The group protesting against the Government’s decision for the delay plans to bring a change to the finance bill which saw its second reading in the Commons only recently. The rebels plan to bring forward an increase on Remote Gaming Duty to make the Government bring back the initially-planned deadline for the stake reduction.
Quite a lot of resignations from Theresa May’s government since the election; highlights including Fallon (alleged misconduct), Patel (Israel meetings), Green (porn), Rudd (Windrush), Hands (Heathrow), Davis (Chequers), Johnson (Chequers), Crouch (FOBTs)
— Jon Stone (@joncstone) November 9, 2018
6 More Months Limit the Gambling Industry Casualties, Treasury Says
For the time being, two amendments have been tabled to try and force the Government to bring the FOBT stake reduction to April. The former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he hoped that the Government would see sense in bringing back the initially-planned date for the crackdown. He added that any delay would equal to letting most vulnerable society members down.
So far, there have not been any indications that the Government will reconsider its decision. A spokesman of Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that the Government stuck to its decision to bring the announced FOBT maximum stake changes to life in October 2019.
Last week, the Secretary of State Philip Hammond explained that one of the main goals of the Government was to provide a reasonable period of time for the gambling industry to reduce the number of job losses in high-street betting outlets which are expected to follow as a result of the change. According to the Treasury, the changes that are to be brought are quite significant, and the six extra months will help gambling operators limit the casualties in the sector, which are expected to come as a result of the FOBT maximum stake cuts from £100 to £2.