Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to reconsider and withdraw her position over the expected crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), after a large number of ministerial aides threatened they will follow Tracey Crouch and will resign if the Government does not proceed with the reform’s initially-announced deadline.
The change was revealed in a written statement to Members of Parliament by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, who also announced that an increase in remote gaming duty will also be made so that the change is affordable.
The statutory instrument that will enact the FOBT stake cut in April 2019 is being laid this week. I may become the first person ever to get a piece of legislation tattooed on my chest
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) November 14, 2018
The reduction of the machines’ maximum stake from £100 to £2 aimed at tackling spreading gambling addiction among British residents is to now happen as initially planned, in April 2019. The Government after all decided to move as initially planned and not give six extra months to the gambling businesses after a large number of Tory Members of Parliament (MPs) said they will sabotage the Treasury plans to roll out the changes in October 2019.
As Casino Guardian has already reported, the announcement of the delay made Tracey Crouch surprisingly leave her role as Minister of Sports and Civil Society after being disappointed with the Government’s decision to protect gambling businesses rather than vulnerable people’s lives.
Breaking: FOBT stake cut will be brought forward to April 2019, according to a written statement from DCMS.
"Parliament has […] been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened […]"
Huge victory for campaigners.
— Rob Davies (@ByRobDavies) November 14, 2018
Former Minister Crouch Welcomes the New Decision
According to media reports, Ms. Crouch welcomed the new decision of the Government and shared she was happy with the fact that “common sense” had eventually prevailed.
She was asked whether she would return to Theresa May’s Government but said there was no vacancy, as her position had already been filled.
My statement on the Government's welcome decision to bring forward the implementation date for the reduction in FOBT stakes pic.twitter.com/uhgpMdpXzX
— Tracey Crouch (@tracey_crouch) November 14, 2018
Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) were first introduced into local betting outlets in 1999. Since then, their number has increased to a total of 33,468 in the country. According to data records of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the profit generated by the machines increased by 74% from £1.05 billion in 2009 to £1.83 billion in 2017. The overall profit of high-street betting shops in 2017 amounted to £3.2 billion, combining both traditional bets and FOBT bets.
In addition, the number of people using the betting machines has also grown, with problem gambling rates continuing to increase, too. As Casino Guardian previously wrote, FOBTs have been blamed for the constantly rising problem gambling rates, which was exactly the reason why anti-gambling campaigners insisted on the maximum stake reduction.
The new change in the Government’s plans for the cuts has been taken as a particular embarrassment for Chancellor Philip Hammond, who announced the delay at the time when the budget was revealed. At the time when the Government announced the results of its gambling industry review, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) suggested that the new regime on the machines should be rolled out within nine to twelve months, which basically meant that the deadline for the change should be placed in April 2019 at the latest.
As revealed by Chancellor Hammond at the time, the announced postponement was aimed at providing the gambling operators with enough time to prepare for the changes in order to prevent as much as possible job losses and betting shops closures in the sector.